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Microsoft, Germany partner to promote mobile phone recycling in Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco

26/08/2014 11:35
Microsoft Mobile Devices Group and Deutsche Gesellschaftfuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) have entered into a partnership with the aim of researching into old mobile phones in Nigeria, Kenya and Morocco.
The research would focus on current practices of repairing, reusing, refurbishing, trading of parts and material processing of old mobile phones.
It's a two-year project, implemented by GIZ and co-funded by Microsoft, geared towards establishing best practices involving the informal and formal sectors for used mobile phones and phone e-waste.
The project would upgrade existing practices towards environmentally sound recycling solutions.
Microsoft said it had commenced the project having considered that e-waste required specific solutions for treatment and material recycling but posed a challenge to Africa while having potential for jobs.
The company said as the continent’s consumption of electronics grows, the volume of e-waste will grow, saying that electronic devices, and particularly mobile phones, contain valuable metals, plastics and other materials that can be turned into secondary raw materials at value.
Ulrike Vott, Microsoft Sustainability Manager for Africa region said, “However, safe technologies and processes are required to recover the metals that make up 40 per cent of a mobile phone without material loss or risk to health and environment.
“Estimations reveal that for every one million phones recycled, it is possible to recover nearly 35kg of gold and 350kg of silver, which can be re-used in the production of future goods.”
"While recycling of mobile phones with appropriate technology is a clean process; it is a challenge to get phones directed into the sound recycling channels, because phones even when broken are a valuable resource to many people.
“We will continue to educate users not to dispose of electronic products together with household waste. The Microsoft GIZ project will assess the existing practices and develop training concepts with a special emphasis on improving the skills of micro and small scale mobile phone repairers, recyclers and dismantlers in the informal and the formal sector.”
Meanwhile, GIZ has said that while Africa does not host many sound e-waste recycling facilities, the continent faces additional challenges.
Barbara Oelz, Adviser for Waste Management at GIZ in Germany, said “Poverty, a main challenge, could drive e-waste towards unsound physical or chemical treatment such as burning or chemical leaching, as people choose the action that provides highest possible cashback from waste – this being the only accessible resource to them to create income.
"Crude recycling practices disregarded the consequences to the processors‘ own health, community safety and the environment. These practices have to change, while businesses and livelihoods that are involved due to lack of laws and incentives need guidance to turn into an environmentally-friendly solution."
According to her, governments and expert groups have started to assess how to meet Africa’s specific challenges.
She said governments across Africa were working on regulations to set rules and responsibilities for e-waste management. “Kenya is at the forefront of setting up solutions and policy including a financial structure for managing waste and ensuring that all stakeholders provide sound collection and treatment of e-waste,” she said.

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