NCC to develop regulation on Nigeria’s N64b eWaste menace

As part of moves to sanitize the environment, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has disclosed plans to commence activities that will result in the formulation of regulations on E-Waste in Nigeria.

NCC noted that today, the global concern for the regulation of e-waste is two-pronged, which includes the acute awareness of the hazardous properties and the potential risk to human health, as well as their capacity to degrade the environment and secondly, is the business case and vast potential for wealth creation in recycling e-waste into more benign and productive uses.

The NCC Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, who disclosed this in Abuja, at the 2023 World Consumer Rights Day with the theme: “Empowering Consumers through Clean Transition,” noted that in line with its regulatory mandate and to keep pace with efforts at managing e-waste-related issues, in a manner that reduces cases of indiscriminate burning of electronic devices with the potential for increased carbon emission in the environment, “the Commission has been working, with other relevant agencies, to develop regulations on E-waste. The regulations will represent a holistic intervention aimed at providing clarity and delimiting the responsibilities of various stakeholders in the e-waste value chain within the telecommunications industry.”

While the proposed regulations are industry-specific, NCC said they, nonetheless, key into other initiatives at national and international levels.

Indeed, waste generation in Nigeria has reached an alarming state and has continued to rise. In fact, findings by The Guardian in a July 2020 investigation, showed that Nigeria generated 461.3-kilo tonnes (KT) in 2019 to rank the highest in West Africa and second after Egypt on the continent. The 461.3kt amounts to $166, 060, 000 (N64.2 billion).

Specifically, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a United Nation’s arm in charge of global telecommunications, noted that approximately 60,000 to71,000 t of used electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) were imported yearly into Nigeria through the two main poÅrts in Lagos since 2015.

While this importation lasted in Nigeria, ITU noted that specific e-Waste legislation on the management of it is still lacking in most African countries. According to it, few countries have legislation published in Africa, these include Egypt, Ghana, Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Cameroon, and Côte d’Ivoire. However, it said enforcing the legislation is very challenging.

Further checks showed that components of e-Waste include large household appliances (42 percent); IT communications technology (34 percent); consumer electronics (14 percent), while others account for 10 percent.

It was, however, gathered that in Nigeria, the largest form of e-Waste, which is a computer and its accessories, constitute about 60 percent, while mobile devices follow with 25 percent. Others like photocopiers and other office equipment account for the remaining 15 percent.

The ITU, in its Global E-waste Monitor 2020, said e-Waste rose by 21 percent in the last five years, with a record 53.6 million metric tonnes (Mt). It noted that e-Waste discarded products, including a battery or plugs such as computers and mobile phones generated, went up 9.2 Mt in five years as of 2019.

Breaking down the 461.3kt into value, the Chief Executive Officer, E-Terra Technologies Limited, a private end-to-end electronic waste management company in Lagos, Dr. Ifeanyi Ochonogor, had said “1mt equals 2,000Ib. Therefore, 461,300mt = 922,600,000Ib.1 scrap computer currently cost $0.18. Therefore, 922,600,000Ib of scrap computers is worth $166,068,000. So, 461.3k of e-waste appears to be worth $166,060,000.” With a population of over 200 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country.

Ochonogor said in a country considered one of the poorest in Africa, over 90 percent of its citizens own and use electric and electronic devices.

“Unfortunately, most of these technology gadgets used by Nigerians are either obsolete or near the end of life (popularly called Tokunbo), which naturally means they will not last long before being discarded by users.

“Further, because most Nigerians cannot afford new electric and electronic appliances, it has become a dumping ground for all manner of fairly used electric and electronic gadgets often imported into the country by dealers and repairers operating in Alaba and Computer village in Lagos State. This explains the huge proliferation of e-Waste in Nigeria.”

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