Senegal’s e-waste management fiasco

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, Dakar, Senegal

According to Osiris, 1250 tons of electronic and electric materials landed in Senegal in 2000 and more than 5800 tons in 2007. Osiris estimates that more than 32 000 tons of computers, mobile phones and televisions will land in Senegal in 2015.

Osiris, which stands for Observatoire sur les Systèmes d’Information, les Réseaux et les Inforoutes au Sénégal, is a local NGO.

Despite reports that Senegal has been making progress in managing its e-waste, the reality on the ground is however different. Children walking around with old computer parts they picked up at a dumping site are a common sight in the neighbourhoods of the capital city, Dakar.

“The growth of e-waste in countries such as Senegal is causing some alarm, with reports predicting that countries like Senegal and Uganda can expect four- to eight-fold increase of PCs alone in 2020,” the Global Information Society Watch reported.

“The problem with e-waste in developing countries is that it has become a big business involving even the same people who are supposed to combat it,” a government source told Biztechafrica on condition of anonymity.

“Obviously, these people know where the huge load of obsolete electronic equipment will land, and they arrange for it to be swept away and taken to undisclosed locations, where it will be dispatched and the next day or week you find it in the townships.”

A foreign visitor who, for the first time, walks around the streets of Dakar’s poor neighbourhoods, could be surprised about the amount of old electronic equipment being handled in repair shops and second-hand shops.

“Senegal has already a poor waste management system, and this, coupled with the growth of e-waste, is creating a real environmental crisis in the country, which many of our populations are not aware of because they have not been told,” the source said. 

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