Uganda has launched the National E-waste Management Centre to address the growing concern over the environment, health and security risk posed by the improper disposal of electronic devices and substances involved in their manufacture or use.
Maj Gen Sabiiti Muzeyi, general manager of Luwero Industries, Luwero Industries Ltd (LIL), said the facility will be managed by the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC) with oversight, regulation and coordination by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).
“In the short and medium term, the facility shall collect, sort, dismantle and dispose at LIL waste disposal/treatment facility, which already has the relevant expertise,” said Sabiiti during the launch of the e-waste facility in Bugolobi, Kampala on Wednesday.
“The centre shall, with time, eventually progress towards refurbishment and recycling. To ensure efficiency and working with the other stakeholders, regional collection centres shall be established to supplement the national e-waste management centre,” he added.
E-waste contains potentially harmful materials such as cadmium, beryllium, lead, mercury and polychlorinated biphenyl.
Cadmium exposure for example is known to cause cancer, and is said to target the body’s cardiovascular, renal, neurological, reproductive and respiratory systems.
The Global E-waste Monitor report by the UN estimates that e-waste generated in Uganda in 2018 was 17 million kilogrammes, and projected that this would grow by approximately 4.5 million Kilogrammes per annum.
Electric and electronic equipment have become part and parcel of people’s daily life- in form of household appliances (such as refrigerators, freezers, microwave ovens, cleaning equipment like vacuum cleaners, flat irons); consumer electronics (such as radios, TVs, cameras, musical instruments); lighting equipment in homes and work areas; toys or sporting leisure equipment; medical devices-cardiology radiology and dialysis equipment; monitoring and control instruments such as smoke detectors, thermostats and the IT and telecommunication equipment (personal computers, printers, photocopiers, telephones, modems and routers).
Sabiiti said there is no doubt that electric and electronics will remain an important factor in people’s lives for a foreseeable future.
Globally, the electric and electronics industry is expected to grow by approximately 6% between 2020 and 2021.
“It is therefore expected that E-waste will equally grow with this growing industry, not forgetting the accumulated e-waste over the years,” said Sabiiti.
Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Executive Director, Eng Irene Kaggwa said the e-waste facility “shall ensure ICT devices, accessories and equipment are properly disposed off in a manner that doesn’t threaten our health.”
Eng Kaggwa further said ICT items contain different minerals, metals and plastics, which if burnt, emit dangerous/poisonous gases or can pollute soil and water bodies, with risk of food contamination.
“Dismantling these without going by the standards also poses handlers to electrocution and skin risks,” she emphasized.
Since 2002, Luwero Industries Ltd (LIL), a subsidiary of the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC) which is a commercial arm of the Ministry of Defence/UPDF- has received, treated and disposed of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste with an annual average of 500 Metric tonnes. According to Sabiiti, in addition to these waste streams, NEC-LIL has treated and disposed of waste from Oil and Gas operations.
While NEC will be responsible for E-waste management, public institutions shall be required to transfer the E-waste to the centre.
The centre shall also receive waste from the private sector and the general public.
In the short term, the e-waste facility will receive E-waste and sort it; update and monitor E-waste inventory; sort, dismantle, reduce size, manage space and transport E-waste to the disposal facilities in Nakasongola.
Sabiiti said LIL plans to set up five Regional Collection Centres which will be further decentralized to the municipality level.