E-waste: The mine field that Kenya is yet to Exploit
Lack of proper e waste management system has seen Kenya lose close to 10 billion annually this is according Boniface Mbithi the General Manager WEEE Centre .
The revelations comes after it emerged that only about one percent of the e waste generated in Kenya is properly managed. Currently it is estimated that Kenya is generating about 51.3k tons of e waste annually.
This therefore means that more than 48 tons of e waste loaded with heavy metals ends up in the dump sites and the rivers exposing Kenyans to dangerous components. It is with this in mind that Boniface Mbithi a lawyer by profession sought to ensure that the e waste generated in Kenya is properly handled and disposed of in a safer and secure manner.
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) describes e-waste as “discarded electrical or electronic devices or appliances that have ceased to be of any value to their owners.”
Mbithi who is also an expert in e-waste recycling and circular economy has in the past worked with information technology companies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and players in the service industry.
He spearheaded the formation of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Centre (WEEE Centre) a company to manage e waste in Kenya.
The idea to form WEEE was conceived after Computer For Schools Kenya (CFSKS) an organisation that refurbishes computers for use in schools and offering educational technology solutions realised that after a while the computers could break down or could be overtaken by new technology and without a proper way to dispose them off the waste this could have posed a danger to the environment. With the passion to push for a proper management of e waste the new venture earned the young lawyer an accolade making it into the list among the top 35 under 35 Kenyans, an award that sought to recognize youths involved in leadership, governance and empowerment development advocacy.
In a period where the pandemic has pushed many businesses online, and schools forcing them to adapt to working virtually, the demand for electronic devices such as smartphones, Wi-Fi routers, laptops, desktops, scanners, cables, modems, charges, batteries and solar power devices shot to an all-time high as corporates doubled efforts to keep processes running.
This may be good news now, however five or six years from now it could be a disaster if not properly handled. WEEE is projecting an increase in the availability of e-waste in the coming few years since technology is changing fast and calls for a need to sensitize Kenyans on how to manage these wastes.