Second Life will manage East Africa’s E-Waste

Computing

A newly licensed electronics recycling company in Uganda - Second Life - is setting up a facility to manage East Africa's e-waste.

These will include things like obsolete computers, mobile phones, televisions, photocopiers, Mp3 players, fax machines and printers, all known to contain toxic substances dangerous to human and animal health.

The privately-owned company begins with a pilot project estimated to cost between Ush150 million ($75,000) and Ush200 million ($100,000) to cover Uganda only, before receiving e-waste from other East African countries.

Second Life said that it will handle, sort and dispose off hazardous electronic waste in an environmentally friendly way. To sustain such initiatives, governments usually impose a recycling tax on any electronic gadget purchased which, they forward to recycling companies to do that job.

Secondly, managing e-waste sometimes involves ultimately extracting some minerals from the waste, which can be commercially sold. Second Life did not give details of its expected revenue streams, but the government environment watchdog told The EastAfrican they are creating a fund to support initiatives of managing e-waste.

Globally e-waste is a major threat to the environment and causes public health problems but it is more of an immediate problem for developing countries like Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, which are used as toxic dumping grounds.

Studies show that in the next six to eight years, developing countries will be disposing of more old computers than the developed world, which implies that even if dumping stopped massive amounts of electronic waste would have to be taken care of.

The Second Life e-waste facility for the region could therefore be timely for solving a problem that is growing every day but with not much attention from governments.