New strategy launched to help government tackle e-waste

10 Jul 2014

imageMr William Nyombi Thembo, State Minister, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) officiating at the launch of the electronics waste management and awareness strategy at Ridar hotel in Seeta (Photo Credit: Edgar Batte/UNDP Uganda).

SEETA - Government of Uganda has today launched an electronics waste management and awareness strategy to promote safe and proper disposal of all outdated and defunct electronic equipment in the country.

Developed by the Ministry of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) with UNDP support, the e-waste strategy will also mobilise additional political and institutional support for e-waste management, build expertise and capacity to manage and enforce regulations, and foster the formation of an environmentally sound service industry.

 “There is need to put in place mechanisms to ensure that e-waste is disposed of in a systematic and environmentally friendly manner,” Mr William Nyombi Thembo, State Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) said while officiating at the launch at Ridar Hotel, Seeta in Mukono.

Mr Nyombi explained that the exponential growth of the sector had increased the volume of electronic waste in Uganda, and now poses a great risk to the environment. To this end, the Ministry of ICT has developed and obtained cabinet approval of a National e-waste management policy to provide guidance on the safe handling of e-waste.

Dr. David Tuhari, director IT and Information Management Systems at the Ministry of ICT said that emerging technology has worsened the e-waste challenge, adding that there is no lack of appropriate infrastructure and technical capacity to handle and dispose e-waste.

Mr Collins Oloya, who represented the director of environment affairs, Ministry of Water and Environment, further noted that there is also need to prepare electronic waste management guidelines as well as carry out a baselines survey of the existing volumes of electronic waste.

Electronic waste (or e-waste) includes computers, entertainment electronics, mobile phones and other items that have reached the end of their useful life and are deemed not suitable for reuse.Globally, the volume of electronic waste is expected to grow by 33% in the next four years, according to the UN’s Step Initiative, which was set up to tackle the world's growing e-waste problem.  In Uganda, Government owns the highest volume of ICT equipment, followed by NGOs at 75%, large enterprises at 20%, private households, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and others at 5% according to a study on e-waste by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).All too often when these materials are not properly disposed of, they end up contaminating water sources, land and air, causing environmental degradation, diseases and other health and human risks.

 “Considering the social and environmental challenge globally, the UN has made a specific attention to this issue. This is part of our support to implementation of the UN Basel convention on control of trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste,” said Ms Almaz Gebru, Country Director, UNDP, in a speech that was read by Mr Onesimus Muhwezi, Team Leader Energy and Environment.

The e-waste management and awareness strategy was developed as part of the UNDP project on ‘Improving policies and strategies for environment, natural resources management and climate risk management’ that is currently being funded to a tune of US$15million.

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