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Entrepreneurs in Nairobi devise solutions for electronic waste


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The environment is being impacted by the rise in electronic waste (e-waste) generation over the past ten years, which is a result of the technology’s quick development.

The fastest-growing domestic waste in the world is e-waste.

Electric and electronic equipment consumes energy at higher rates, has shorter lifespans, and many items are not designed to be repaired, all of which contribute to the problem.

Due to the lack of strong laws to address the issue, Africa has turned into a landfill for electronic waste from Western nations.

A total of 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste were produced annually, according to the global e-waste monitor report from 2020.

If left unchecked, this could double to 120 million tonnes by 2050.

Only 17.4% of electronic waste is properly managed globally.

Kenya produced 51,000 metric tonnes of electronic waste annually by 2021, up from 3,000 metric tonnes in 2012.

In Kenya, waste management has been extremely difficult.

While some e-waste is recycled and disposed of properly by people or businesses, the majority of it ends up in landfills.

Godwin Ochieng is one of many people who scavenge electronic waste from Nairobi landfills for a living.

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He makes repairs to what he can and then sells it.

He claims that most of the waste is burned because it cannot be reused.

“Some are complete waste, hazardous to the environment, and when burned, they release noxious gases. In the dumpsite, most of the waste is burnt, and the gases emitted especially from electronics is harmful,” explains Ochieng.

A company called Electronic Waste Initiative Kenya (EWIK) started operating in 2015 by repairing broken laptops and teaching the next generation how to recycle electronic waste.

A technician at EWIK named George Kimani observes that many laptops are discarded at the first sign of trouble.

Such laptops are gathered by EWIK, repaired, and sold to those in need for a reduced price of $150 USD.

“We change those casings, update the software, and then put them up for sale. We sell our laptops for extremely low prices because most of our customers are the less fortunate members of the community, says Kimani.

Two of the biggest issues facing the world today are the effects of climate change and the growth of e-waste.

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Between 2014 and 2020, 53% of greenhouse gas emissions were caused by e-waste.

The two-thirds of heavy metal toxins come from this waste.

These metals, like mercury and lead, decompose in the soil and release hazardous gases that are bad for both people and the environment.

According to Joseph Oliech, project manager at the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipments (WEEE) Center, this has significantly influenced climate change.

“You are seeing the effects of climate change everywhere, and you are seeing public health issues everywhere,” says Oliech. Numerous toxic substances, including thousands of rare metals, are present in e-waste.

All forms of e-waste are recycled and properly disposed of at the WEEE Centre.

They engage in e-waste remanufacturing and urban mining to create new machinery.

The facility disassembles electronic waste and collects essential materials for recycling.

By accumulating hazardous substances in the environment, e-waste contributes to climate change, says environmental management and governance expert Victor Boiyo.

The ozone layer is being destroyed because of greenhouse gases produced by some of these materials, he says.

EWIK’s founder, Lawrence Thuo, recognized that e-waste is a generational issue and established a facility where he teaches young people how to recycle e-waste.

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“We are teaching our students how to responsibly manage their electronic waste. This is done by cleaning up the environment and adapting the circular economy to the best way to deal with the e-waste that is produced, the author claims.

Because of the negative effects of climate change, the horn of Africa is currently experiencing its worst drought in years.

The sixth season of rains has been unsuccessful.

Rivers and wells have dried up as a result of the drought, which has also caused a severe food shortage.

Nearly 23 million people in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia are experiencing food shortages, according to the food security working group, which is co-chaired by the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

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