Rwanda: Time to Plan for the e-Menace

Where do old phones, computers and other electronic accessories go? That is exactly what is giving government officials sleepless nights.

Many government institutions opt to auction their absolute equipment to save space and not to for monetary gain, but the practice is like a double-edged sword. Once the equipment goes into public hands, its control or disposal becomes a nightmare.

Once the public has stripped off all things of commercial value, they simply dump the waste anywhere and most of the material making up the equipment is dangerous. Poor e-Waste management can lead to severe health and pollution problems.

The government should therefore come up with sound and appropriate policies before e-Waste becomes a more serious threat.

One of them would be the total ban of importation of used or second hand electronics, even if they are donations, as has been the case in the past. Some of the donations are actually an indirect waste management system by the donors.

Some countries in Africa, especially in West Africa, have become notorious dumping grounds. Recyclable pieces are stripped off the equipment and re-exported as raw material, but the health toll is heavy for those who work in the informal recycling trade.

What Rwanda needs to avoid the West African path is to plan ahead; put in place modern recycling and disposal plants to take care of this new e-Menace that is piling up as the society becomes more affluent. We deserve better than being an e-Dumping ground.