‘Nigeria losing billions on improper management of e-waste’
Worried by the high risk posed by improper management of electronic waste in Nigeria, experts have called for definite action to arrest the dumping of electronic products in the country.
The experts, who met under the E-Waste Relief Foundation (ERF) said, the call became necessary going by the increasing rate of cancer in the country. According to them, the impact of improper management of e-waste, usually deduced from the cancer rate indicated that Nigerian cancer rate has gone up to 1.1 million fresh cancer case each year.
President of the Foundation, who spoke to newsmen in Lagos, Dr. Ifeanyi Ochonogor noted that a recent review of cancer rate between 2016 and 2018, showed that it has doubled because the improper management of waste particularly electronic waste. Ochonogor said that there had been consistent mismanagement of e-waste by the informal sector, thereby causing harm to man and the ecosystem. He said that for much harm to be averted, there was need for sensitisation and education of the informal sector by e-waste management experts.
Beyond the health implications, he said Nigeria is also losing billions of naira in revenue by the improper management of electronic waste. According to him, there is need to create more awareness for our people to obviously to know how we can dispose electronic waste because it is most hazardous waste because it has so many carcinogenic toxic materials that go into its creation.
He also stressed that the exponential growth in the use of technology devices such as computers, telephones, tablets, TVs have made these tools part of our everyday lives whether as individuals or businesses. As these devices reach their end of life, they become obsolete and unwanted and the challenge of properly disposing them in an environmentally sustainable manner that does not harm humans and the environment is important.
Apart from health issues, improper handling of electronic devices can result in data breaches and loss of confidential information that can cost business monumental losses in revenue. The United Nations and World Health Organization (WHO) had linked increasing cases of cancer, kidney and liver diseases in Nigeria to environmental pollution. Certification of companies importing the electronics is also important to ensure they meet international best practices.He said: “When you look at the cradle to grave, the resource acquired in order to create new electronic devices, do not even come from here in Africa.
“But the one that are consumed by ourselves or by developed nations, only 20 per cent of what is consumed get to their own electronic recycling companies. So the rest get exported from their shores to other underdeveloped countries all over the world like India, Nigeria, Ghana and others.
“So, if they are not disposed properly it is toxic and it is also from the cradle to grave approach, the cradle is from the production, the grave is from recycling for it to go back to the system. These are the worse part of plastic because it cannot recycle it to use for cups or other types of products that you can recycle it because you can’t remove all the chemicals in these plastics, you have to use it for set markets.
“Nigeria is one of the countries that do not have a strong electronic waste recycling system”, he added. He also stressed the need for amendments to existing ICT Laws and institutional framework to insert mandatory provisions and policies for anti-dumping, responsible and accountable usage, and end of life and safe disposal of electronic equipment for compulsory compliance by manufacturers, vendors, and distributors of computers and electronic gadgets.
“On the part of government and regulators, there is a need to encourage companies like our own through tax incentives such as putting e-waste companies in the pioneer status category, reduce the incidence of multiple taxation and municipal charges and offering rebates and waivers on equipment importation and port clearance charges.”, he added.
Ochonogor, who is also the Chief Executive officer of E Terra Technologies Limited said, the foundation, the flagship Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), is focused on tackling the electronic-waste (e-waste) crisis within Nigeria and the West African sub-region. He, however, commended efforts by government and its Agencies such as the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and other Stakeholders in the e-waste industry.