Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) joins the world to commemorate the International E-waste Day 2020. As part of its regulatory intervention in the communications sector, UCC is a key stakeholder in the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of communications (ICT) equipment, from acquisition to retirement.
Uganda faces challenges in adequate and sustainable management of e-waste. Not only does the country lack quantifiable data and statistics on e-waste, it also faces the business as usual attitude of most users who openly dump e-waste anywhere. Besides, obsolete equipment remains piled up in homes for different reasons, including sentimental attachment by the owners or lack of a proper disposal system.
The world generated approximately 53.6 million metric tonnes of electronic waste in 2019, a 21 percent increase in just five years, according to the UN’s Global E-waste Monitor 2020. The figure is expected to reach 74 million metric tonnes by 2030. Yet only 17.4 percent of 2019’s e-waste was collected and recycled.
To create awareness and highlight the importance of adequate and sustainable management of e-waste, the International E-waste Day (IEWD) was created in 2018 through the WEEE Forum to, among others, promote recycling, repair, reuse, refurbishment and proper e-waste disposal.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s theme focuses on Education, aiming to sensitize the younger audience around the e-waste issues so as to bring up a new generation of responsible consumers, while making the message heard among their families, teachers and local communities.
UCC has collaborative engagements on e-waste management at local, regional and international level. At national level, the engagements are with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and academia, among others.
Under the National Steering Committee for E-waste Management, UCC has contributed to the development of a national e-waste management framework to streamline the operationalization of the e-waste policy and guidelines in place, as well as establishment of a national e-waste collection centre.
UCC has recently concluded a study on end of life (EoL) management of communications equipment and devices, aimed at informing its regulatory function of ensuring communications equipment and products are appropriately managed right from importation through to EoL. The study, among other findings, projects an average of 4,500 tonnes of e-waste per year for the period 2018 to 2022 from end user communications/ICT equipment.
At regional level, under the East African Communications Organization (EACO), UCC has contributed to the development of the regional strategy on e-waste management and facilitated e-waste management awareness workshops.
At the international level, UCC contributes to standards development and guidelines for the proper management of e-waste under the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). UCC also coordinates Africa’s contributions to the development of the international standards through its position as the current Chair of the African Regional Group of the ITU.
The IEWD is a reminder to all stakeholders to devise sustainable strategies to address product and equipment obsolescence while promoting awareness campaigns on EoL management of electronic and electronic equipment, and establishment of e-waste handling facilities, among other key interventions.