Early February, during a business visit to Nairobi, Beyond Intent had the opportunity to visit the Kenyan Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Centre. The Centre is a practical response to the increasing challenge of managing e-Waste, a result of the rapid development. It is now scaling-up operations to reach other countries in East Africa.
With countries in East Africa undergoing a rapid digitalisation, e-Waste has become a growing challenge. Typical for the context, developing countries lack the resources to rapidly bridge the digital divide with new equipment, but also lack the capacity to safely dispose of the large numbers of substitute pre-owned computers with shorter lifespan. Services for recycling of components or management of toxic or hazardous materials are largely unavailable. At the end of the lifecycle electrical and electronical equipment ends up in landfills or its various toxic parts are burned or dumped behind an informal sector workshop.
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Centre (WEEE Centre) has developed treatment capacity for most types of electronic and electronic waste. It is the only facility in East and Central Africa that handle all types of e-waste. Locally recyclable materials, ie metals, aluminium, copper and hard and soft plastics go to local smelters and a small portion of the difficult elements are managed in Europe.
The facility is constructed from shipping containers and most of the labour is done manually. With a practical and resource efficient approach, WEEE Centre meets the need of rapidly developing country and makes use of waste of the process.