With the African continent generating 2.9 million tonnes of e-waste in 2019, telecoms company Airtel Africa, through its subsidiary in Kenya, is raising awareness of e-waste recycling in the city of Nairobi. Ultimately, the initiative will contribute to the development of a low-carbon economy in the East African country, which is feeling the full effects of climate change.
According to the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership, only 13 out of 43 African countries analysed have a national policy for the regulation and management of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). In this context, the Kenyan subsidiary of the Indian telecommunications company Bharti Airtel is launching an operation with its employees to collect, decommission, transport, store and recycle electronic waste in Nairobi.
This includes smartphones, computers and appliances containing motherboards, batteries, screens and cables. The initiative will enable Airtel Kenya to minimise the environmental impact of its operations and products in operation, with the assistance of the Utawala (Nairobi) based Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Centre (WEEE Centre) headed by Bonnie Mbithi.
“We have an obligation to do all we can, individually and as a company, to support e-waste recycling. We are keen to continue these efforts by encouraging our staff and partners to participate in our ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink’ concept,” says Airtel Kenya Managing Director Prasanta Das Sarma.
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In Kenya, Airtel Africa, led by Nigerian Segun Ogunsanya, has a 27.2% share of the local telecoms market, with over 16.2 million subscribers out of a total of 59.8 million, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA). Moreover, the company competes on the continent with other telecoms operators that are also stepping up their green commitments. This is the case of South Africa’s MTN, whose initiative in 2015 enabled the collection and recycling of 20 and 53 tonnes of end-of-life electronic devices in Cameroon and Benin.