Phone-maker Nokia has says it will recycle every grey handset Kenya’s government plans to paralyse on September 30, in a strategy aimed at preventing environmental pollution that could result from disposal of an estimated 2.4 million phones.
Nokia has partnered with major Kenyan shopping outlets Nakumatt, Tuskys and Naivas, as well as mobile network operators Safaricom and Airtel Kenya, to offer an additional 100 collection points across the country for affected phone users to dispose of their devices.
“Consumers in Kenya, like in many countries across the globe, are unaware of the environmental benefits of recycling their broken or unwanted mobile phones,” said Bruce Howe, general manager for Nokia East Africa.
According to Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK), non-genuine handsets in the country are close to 2.4 million, about 10 percent of Kenya’s active mobile devices, a staggering figure that has raised concerns about disposal plans. Nokia hopes to contain the potential e-waste threat.
The United Nations Environment Project (UNEP) estimates that e-waste worldwide could total 50 million tonnes, with Africa set to generate more e-waste than Europe by 2017.
“The reality is that mobile phones contain many valuable and useful materials that can be recycled, including precious metals and plastics,” said Howe. “In fact, for every one million phones recycled, it is possible to recover nearly 35 kilogrammes of gold and 350 kilogrammes of silver, which can be reused in the production of future electronic goods.”
Nokia is currently working with Anti-Counterfeits Authority (ACA), the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and local stakeholders to encourage consumers to participate in the recycling process.
The CCK, a body mandated with regulation of ICT in Kenya, is working with local manufacturers and government agencies such as the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the Office of the President and the Anti-Counterfeit Agency to disconnect the fake gadgets.
According to the CCK Director-General Francis Wangusi, the switch-off will ensure consumers in Kenya are protected from social, health and safety issues related to counterfeit phone use.
He added that CCK is committed to ending the presence of criminals in the mobile phone market as well as ensuring mobile phones sold are genuine.
Wangusi also added that counterfeit mobile phones increase criminal activities as they are untraceable and affect the performance of mobile networks. The phones also expose consumers to high levels of radiation that can cause cancer.
CCK is asking phone users to check for authenticity of the phones by dialling *#06#, for the IMEI number to be sent via SMS to 1555.
Fake mobile phones have repetitive numbers, decimals, alphanumerics, letters and fractions, the CCK says.