RE: “Government leases e-waste facility” (The New Times, January 24).
This is excellent news which shows the fruits of a good collaborative effort between government agencies, namely Ministry of Trade and Industtry, Rwanda Development Board and Fonerwa(Rwanda’s green growth fund)/Rwanda Environment Management Authority.
After perusing the national e-waste policy freely available on the internet, I have several observations:
1. Enforcement of e-waste standards. e-waste management is a value chain ranging from sorting at source, collection, transportation and treatment. At each stage of this chain there are standards to be enforced which are key to e-waste management.
2. e-waste facilities and management: Promote the development of the facilities required to sort, collect, transport the e-waste. We hope other private companies can join in this is potential for good business.
3. Awareness and education. The government needs to educate the public on safe disposal of e-waste. Too often, people throw out car batteries, phone batteries, charger electronic appliances haphazardly. As the largest consumer of electronics, the government has to implement the procurement of safe and environmental friendly equipment.
4. Investments in e-waste value chain. At each stage of the value chain, there are viable opportunities for private sector to participate in and government has to encourage and promote such investments.
Given the diverse nature of e-waste from technical aspects, to health to environment, standards and regulations, the management of e-waste brings together several government institutions and there has to be mechanism to bring in effective coordination. The key institutions include:
A. Ministry of ICT: This appears to be the lead in e-waste management effort.
B. Ministry of Trade and Industry: To coordinate private sector participation.
C. Ministry of Health: To develop health and safety standards. The jury is still out on the safety of mobile phone radiation as a good example. The issue of exploding phones remains a concern worldwide.
D. Ministry of Education: To develop a curriculum on e-waste education and a skills force for e-waste management.
E. Ministry of Infrastructure: To develop a management plan for government electronic assets and their proper disposal. An aspect to note is the safe retrieval of government information that resides in laptops, computers before they can be disposed off.
F. Rwanda Environmental Management Authority. Streamlining e-waste policies in the broader national environmental policies while monitoring its compliance.
G. Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority: To develop regulations, technical guidelines for e-waste management and enforcing a licensing regime for e-waste management actors.
H. Rwanda Standards Bureau: To develop standards on e -waste and monitor compliance to the set standards.
I. Rwanda Revenue Authority: TO monitor electronics imports to enforce compliance of e-waste standards.
J. General Public: We as the users of electronics need to be motivated/encouraged to return the expired electronics instead of discarding them.
Looking at the above, there are still gaps that need to be addressed in order to have a holistic approach to e-waste in the country.