African countries will need to fix their tax regimes and enact laws that require electronic equipment manufacturers to pay for end-of-life disposal, if the e-waste issue is to be completely tackled, according to experts.
The issue of e-waste is connected to the issue of used-PC imports. Uganda now has a moratorium on used-PC imports but it has became clear that a total ban would seriously hamper government efforts for e-commerce, e-learning, e-health and e-agriculture, especially in rural areas with limited income sources.
Kenya had earlier imposed a 25 percent duty and Uganda followed with a ban on used PCs in a move to rid East Africa of electronic waste from the West, often donated to communities but usually unusable.
"What we need in Uganda is to discourage people from importing very old, useless machines that are just being dumped by the West; computers that are in good condition are very good for Africa because we need an ICT revolution," said Stone Atwine, managing director of BlissOne Media in Uganda.
The entry of the SEACOM and TEAMS fiber-optic cables and the zero-tax rating of mobile handsets and computers in East Africa has led to affordability of electronic equipment, which is compounding e-waste disposal headaches.
"We need comprehensive e-waste management policies; the seemingly new computers today will become old in a couple of months or years," said Douglas Onyango, a member of Uganda's IT advocacy forum I-Network.
Computer Aid International -- which distributes refurbished PCs -- has consistently insisted that policy must be put in place to compel the original equipment manufacturer to pay for the end-of-life recycling of their products, as currently practiced in Europe. Companies like Nokia, Samsung, Kenwood, Dell, Hewlett Packard and Toshiba already pay for the end-of-life recycling of all waste electronic and electrical equipment in Europe, Gladys Muhunyo, Assistant Director in charge of Africa at Computer Aid.