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Experts seek action on industrial, electronic waste in Africa

KIGALI, (Xinhua) -- Environmental experts on Wednesday expressed concern over the rate at which the electronic and industrial wastes have been dumped in open places in most African cities.

Speaking at a panel session “papers on waste management and environment” during the 2nd edition of Africa Engineering Conference held in Rwanda’s capital city Kigali, panelists said that electronic and industrial wastes dumped in open places in various cities and urban centers in Africa have an adverse impact on human health and the environment.

“Hazardous electronic and industrial wastes have a multitude of components with valuable materials, some containing toxic substances, that are harmful to people and the environment once openly disposed. Urban authorities in majority African countries are silent on the issue,” said Wanjau Fiek, Chairman of Engineers Board of Kenya.

He said Kenya and Rwanda have taken great strides in protecting the environment by banning the use of plastic bags, but much is needed to ensure proper disposal of the waste.

Plastic bags contribute to 8 million tonnes of plastic that leak into the ocean every year, according to United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

At the meeting, participants called for concerted efforts towards the protection of the environment through proper disposal of industrial wastes.

According to a UNEP report in 2015, the growing volumes of e-waste, municipal waste, industrial waste, food waste, discarded chemicals and counterfeit pesticides, all contribute to increasing pressure on the environment.

The report points out that up to 90 percent of the world’s electronic waste, worth nearly 19 billion U.S. dollars is illegally traded or dumped each year.

Coletha Ruhamya, Director General Rwanda Environment Management Authority, said that major concerns of industrial and electronic waste management include air pollution, soil contamination and diseases transmission which are dangerous to human health and environment.

“We need strong partnership between government and the private sector to ensure appropriate infrastructural facilities and procedures for disposal and recycling of industrial and electronic wastes without affecting the environment and human life,” she added.

Ruhamya said the use of electric and electronic goods like mobile phones, television screens, DVD and CD players, computers, laptops, electric bulbs and refrigerators are on the rise in urban centers, resulting in huge electronic wastes, which harm the environment.

Rwanda hosts Africa engineering forum from Sept. 25 to 29 under the theme “Effective Waste Management in Africa” with a focus on promoting professional engineering in Africa to drive infrastructure growth.

The five-day conference was organized by the Rwanda’s ministry of infrastructure in collaboration with the Institute of Engineering Rwanda (IER) and Federation of Africa Engineering Organizations (FAEO).

It has attracted around 1,000 delegates including government officials, consultants, and civil society in general together with local, regional and international engineers, according to the organizers.



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