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E-waste recycling center launched in Nairobi

The center opens up amid growing concern about e-waste dumping in Africa

Computer Aid International, a U.K. charity, has partnered with Computers for Schools Kenya to launch an electronic waste recycling center to address the growing challenge of electronic waste management.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Management (WEE) center will collect and recycle electronic waste all over Kenya, starting with government offices and extending to homes and private offices. WEE is hosted by Computers for Schools Kenya.

"The center will handle e-waste from homes to offices, both large and small gadgets, and raise awareness on the harmful environmental impact of ICT equipment," said Gladys Muhunyo, director of the Africa program for Computer Aid International.

Muhunyo said that the Computer Aid Africa Regional Office has provided more than 80,000 computers to schools and community organizations in 20 African countries in partnership with non-governmental organizations and universities. The recycling sector is expected to benefit the partners as well as the public in dealing with e-waste.

"We are going to work with existing partners in East and Central Africa to establish recycling centers and, given there are no specific laws governing e-waste management, the centers will address part of the challenges," said Tom Musili, Computers for Schools Kenya founder.

There has been growing unease about the amount of electronics that are donated or sold cheaply in the region and become obsolete.

"There is a huge lack of understanding and resources to manage the growing volumes of e-waste across Africa; currently, e-waste is often disposed of in landfills, where people manually sort through the waste, which is extremely damaging to both human health and the environment," said Anja ffrench, director of communications at Computer Aid.

One of the challenges the partnership is going to face in sorting electronic waste at the major landfill in Kenya is the existence of criminal gangs. Dandora dump site, the biggest in Nairobi, is manned by criminal gangs, who expect to be paid by any vehicle that goes in to dump or collect waste.

"We are going to find a way to deal with the people at Dandora dump site to allow us to sort the electronic waste from the landfill; this is a challenge that we have to invest in," added Musili, who will be heading the WEE center.

The WEE center has already received support from companies including Microsoft and Orange, and humanitarian agencies United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), UNESCO, and the U.K. Department for International Development (DfID).


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