Nigeria: E-Waste - National Policy to Restrict Import Underway

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Following growing concern over the environmental problem posed by the indiscriminate dumping of electrical/electronic waste in the country, the Federal Government said last that it was about to formulate a national policy on e-waste management. The policy may restrict the importation of certain categories of second-hand electronic equipment into the country.

Under the planned new import restriction regime, the Federal Government is considering a partial ban on the importation of certain electronic/electrical equipment that fall below specified age limits.

Speaking at an emergency meeting with stakeholders in Abuja, Director-General of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Dr. (Mrs.) Ngeri Benebo, said government had initiated a number of actions to combat the scourge including the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee on electrical and electronic waste management to proffer lasting solutions to the problem.

The DG said as part of the process to develop a national policy framework for addressing the e-waste, a stakeholder sensitisation workshop was convened last year. The workshop identified, among others, that electronic waste had become the fastest growing waste stream in the world even as the general public remained unaware of its menace.

She said under the Basel Convention, for which Nigeria is a signatory, any country can define hazardous waste nationally in ways that suits its peculiar situation, beyond the definitions contained in the convention.

She added that "all imports of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEE) that qualify as WEE under the convention including those identified by the national definitions in Nigeria could be prohibited.

She added that "Nigeria can impose additional requirements regarding age and packaging in order to ensure that the material sent into the country as second hand electrical/electronic goods are not hazardous wastes."

Benebo said Nigeria may consider allowing the importation of fully functional used electrical equipment, if properly packaged and with a certain minimum age requirement.

According to her, an investigation carried out by NESREA in the wake of the reported dumping of electronic waste at the Alaba International Market area of Lagos, traced the problem to the large influx of second hand electronic/electrical equipment into the country.

The D-G described e-waste as an emerging hazardous waste issue in Nigeria and Africa with absence of national infrastructure to recycle the materials as well as a legislation to regulate the sector.

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