E-waste is growing exponentially in developing countries as the demand for electrical and electronic appliances increases. This demand is satisfied by both new and refurbished products.
According to UNEP the amount of e-waste being produced could rise by as much as 500% over the next decade in some countries.
Today’s statistics do not distinguish between new and used Electric and Electronic Equipment (EEE), making it difficult to obtain data. However, studies in Ghana, for example, revealed that in 2009 around 70% of all imports were used EEE. 30% of the used EEE imported was determined to be non-functioning and should therefore have been defined as e-waste. Half of this was repaired locally and sold to consumers, while the other half was irreparable.
It is unclear how much of the remaining 70% of the used EEE functioned for a reasonable time after it was sold. Such “near-end-of-life” equipment can be imported into West African countries as equipment but turn into e-waste in a relatively short time.
In 2010, between 50% and 85% of the e-waste in five selected West African countries (Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Liberia and Nigeria) was domestically generated from the consumption of new or used EEE of good quality with a reasonable life-span. For the five countries selected, this is between 650,000 and 1,000,000 tonnes of domestic e-waste generated per annum.
SOURCE: Basel convention - Where are WEEE in Africa (2011)
In East Africa, for example, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda had over 10 million mobile phone subscribers in 2010. This number increases year by year. As more new ICT end-users get connected, ICT hardware consumption will increase. As the products become obsolete, the volume of e-waste will also increase. Today, Kenya generates on average 3,000 tonnes of e-waste per year from computers, monitors, printers, mobile phones, fridges and batteries amongst other devices.