What does the future of electronic waste management in Africa look like? Globally, it is the fastest growing waste stream. In 2019 it amounted to roughly 53.6 million tonnes, of which only 17.4% was properly collected and recycled18.
We know that digital solutions can provide answers to Africa’s socio-economic challenges, but digitisation - and the built-in obsolescence of many devices - has its own environmental implications.
As a continent, Africa produces very little e-waste - just 2% of the world’s total. However, many countries, such as Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria, have become illegal dumping grounds for the gadgets the rest of the world throws away.
As a result, informal recycling channels have sprung up to turn this into a business opportunity, capturing the value in waste materials and prolonging the useful life of much equipment that is thrown away.
However, these practices are inefficient, often dangerous and have significant impacts on public health and the environment.