Uganda's First National E-waste Management Centre Launched

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) together with the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC) have launched the first National E-waste Management center for Uganda. The facility was launched on June 10, 2021 in the presence of representatives from UNBS, UCC, NITA-U, MoICT & NG and other stakeholders.

The problem associated with end-of-life and waste from electric and electronic equipment (EEE) is broadly recognized as a serious environment and social concern world over and Uganda in particular.
The increasing penetration and generation rate of EEE and their short replacement cycles is the major reason for the current exponential growth of the amount of electronic waste (e-waste) in the country. Improper disposal of e-waste poses environment, health, safety and security risks.

The Government of Uganda recognized the challenges posed by e-waste and put in place an enabling environment in an attempt to facilitate its adequate and sustainable management. This is demonstrated by the existence of the National Environment Act, 2019, the National Environment (waste management) Regulations 2020, the E-Waste Management Policy 2012, the E-Waste Management Strategic Plan, and the E-Waste Guidelines 2016.

A National Steering Committee on E-waste Management comprising of the relevant key stakeholders in the e-waste management value chain has been in place since 2016. Government has gone a step further to establish the National E-waste Management Facility.

Speaking at the launch, NEMA executive Director Dr. Tom Okurut said “Today most E-waste is being discarded together with other waste streams such as domestic waste. However, there are environmental concerns associated with the end-of-life and waste from electric and electronic equipment (EEE). It is a fact that E-waste contains hazardous components, including beryllium, cadmium, mercury, and lead and therefore must be handled and treated cautiously. Improper disposal of E-waste poses environment, health, safety and security risks; and can lead to pollution of our soil, air and water with undesirable chemicals”

Maj Gen Innocent Oula, the Deputy Managing Director of NEC, disclosed that the e-waste management centre shall be the main and pivotal e-waste management facility in the country. In the short and medium term, the facility shall collect, sort, dismantle and dispose E-waste at Luweero Industries Limited waste disposal/treatment facility, which already has the relevant expertise. He added that the centre shall eventually progress towards refurbishment and recycling. To ensure efficiency and working with the other stakeholders, regional collection centres shall be established to supplement the national e-waste management centre.

According to the Global E-waste Monitor Report 2020 by the United Nations, the e-waste generated in Uganda was estimated at 17000 tonnes in 2018, and a projection of 4500 tonnes per annum of e-waste from end user ICT devices per year from 2018 to 2022 (UCC, 2020).

The facility has been established to ensure safe and sustainable management of e-waste with the following objectives;

I. proper management of EEE at its end of life so as to mitigate the health and environmental impacts, to facilitate material recovery for reuse, refurbishment and recycling of EEE.

II. To ensure safe disposal of electronic waste
The facility will be managed by the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC) with oversight, regulation and coordination by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).

For sustainable management, running and maintenance of the Facility, provision of recycling and refurbishment activities as well as establishment of a mandatory extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme is critical. EPR entails producers and dealers of EEE being part and parcel of the end of life management activities.