Rwanda crafts e-waste law
Saturday May 11 2013
Rwanda is crafting a regulation to manage disposal of its mounting electronic waste to avert an environmental disaster.
The national policy to guide the value chain management of e-waste will ensure Rwanda adheres to international standards on collection, disposal and recycling of waste from electronics.
The law, whose draft is yet to be tabled before the Cabinet, seeks to introduce an efficient e-waste management system that reduces negative environmental impacts from the no-longer-in-use electronics scattered around the country.
Rwanda has witnessed a rapid growth in the inflow of mobile phones and computers and their peripherals, and television sets, thanks to a liberalised Information and Communications Technology policy that saw some electronic goods exempted from taxes and duties.
Latest figures from the Rwanda Environment Management Agency show that the country had 1.5 million computers by December 2011.
In addition, six million Rwandans own mobile telephones while 144,192 households owned television sets by 2011. Projects such as fibre optic coverage of the whole country, one laptop per child, and rural electrification programmes, have boosted the use of electronic equipment.
According to scientists, e-waste is more hazardous than many other municipal wastes because electronic gadgets contain components made of deadly chemicals, which can potentially damage the nervous system, the kidneys, bones, and the reproductive and the endocrine systems.
Proper recycling of e-waste is necessary to recover metals that pose environment and health risks. Industry experts say the law is necessary to address the falling lifespan of electronic equipment, coupled with high consumerism, low recycling rates and the illegal movement of products from developed to developing countries, which serves to increase e-waste in Rwanda.
Nkurikiyimfura Didier, Director General in charge of ICT at the Ministry of Youth and ICT, absence of regulation could create a serious problem.
He notes that, while Rwanda had not yet had a major crisis arising from e-waste, it was being proactive by putting a framework in place.
The proposed law seeks, among other things, to make trans-boundary shipments of equipment capable of generating e-waste illegal.