The e-waste, which includes discarded computers, entertainment electronic equipment, mobile phones, television sets and refrigerators, is said to be lying redundant in various government institutions such as public schools, hospitals and government offices.
“However, much as we try to auction them to the public, they still remain piled up. We are looking for ways of how to recycle or destroy them in a manner that is friendly to the environment,” Sylvie Mukunde Mboyo, the director of ICT at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), told the Sunday Times.
Rwanda’s minister of youth and ICT Jean Philbert Nsengimana acknowledged that e-waste is a huge challenge to government institutions, saying urgent action is needed to deal with the problem.
“The draft policy on e-waste was concluded and it's ready to be submitted to the Prime Minister's Office before it is presented to Cabinet. The bill proposes clear rules to promote national policy objectives and manage e-waste in a sustainable manner,” he said.
Environmentalists warn that if e-waste is not disposed off appropriately the hazardous components they contain could pollute underground water, hence the need for action on the government’s part.
Since Rwanda instituted tax exemptions on imported ICT equipment the country has seen the number of electronic gadgets grow tremendously now they are more affordable. However, the rate at which these equipments are becoming obsolete is faster than that at which they are being disposed off safely.
To reduce e-waste, Rwanda has put out a ministerial order preventing the country from becoming an ICT equipment dumpsite.
The government has in addition sent students overseas to study mechanisms of proper e-waste disposal.