E-waste to grow by a third in Africa by 2017
The expert forecast is based on an interactive, online world map depicting the amount of electronic waste produced in different countries across the globe and a report showing the amount of e-waste shipped from the United States to developing countries.(Image: The Guardian)
In a worrying trend for a continent that is leveraging the ICT revolution for greater growth, experts have forecast that the amount of electronic waste would grow by a third between 2012 and 2017 in Africa.
The forecast was made as the Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) Initiative launched an interactive, online world map depicting the amount of electronic waste produced in different countries across the globe and a report, written by experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), showing the amount of e-waste shipped from the United States to developing countries.
On December 16, 2013, the online maps, based on 2012 data from 184 nations, as well as the report on the waste footprint of the US, were launched. Their aim is to allow governments, industry and other organisations to plan e-waste management and to recycle mobile phones, laptops, televisions and computer monitors which are thrown-away.
The report indicates that in 2012, seven kilograms of e-waste are produced by each person across the globe, a total of 48.9 million tonnes. Based on these estimations, StEP anticipated that in 2017 this figure will increase to 65.4 million tonnes.
According to the executive secretary of StEP, Ruediger Kuehr, in some developing countries, governments do not pay enough attention to the e-waste issue, which also gives rise to business opportunities in the e-waste disposal segment.
The co-author of the report, Jeremy Gregory, said that the workers’ health or environment could be affected by the conditions in which electronic rubbish is dismantled.
The amount of e-waste generated in each country shows how much electrical and electronic equipment was placed on the market and contains national regulations regarding e-waste management.
Mobile phones, televisions and computer monitors are the most common type of e-waste shipped from the United States and the country is considered to be the one producing the largest amount of e-waste at 9.4 million tonnes, followed by China with 7.3 million tonnes in 2012.
For per person waste footprint, Qatar leads with each person producing 63 kilograms of e-waste, equivalent to nine times the world average. On the other hand, Ethiopia and Republic of Congo produced 680 grams and 210 grams respectively, winning honors at the lowest end of the spectrum.
However, environmentalists need not lose heart. With more transparency and government control, the volume of illegal shipping of e-waste can be reduced.