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E-waste it wisely: lessons from Africa

07 Feb 2022

E-waste is the world’s fastest growing and most valuable domestic waste stream. The increasing production of e-waste is driving elevated levels of export from developed to developing countries. Although countries worldwide are actively recognising the issues around e-waste and introducing policies, legislation or regulations governing e-waste, a large fraction of e-waste, goes undocumented at its end-of-life. Much of the global e-waste is accumulating in open dumpsites in several African countries.


Using available data, we calculate the total e-waste in Africa (locally produced plus imported e-waste) for 2019 to be between 5.8 and 3.4 metric tonnes (Mt). This is believed to be an underestimate, large data gaps exist, hindering more precise estimates. The data is further complicated by, sometimes intentional, differences in labelling and reporting between formal and intermittent informal importers. Based on the available data, the main African recipients of e-waste are Nigeria, Ghana, and Tanzania, with Kenya, Senegal and Egypt featuring as countries of concern.


The lack of proper waste management in the recipient developing countries, leads to environmental contamination and human exposure. A coordinated, regional and global, approach is needed in tackling e-waste. Regulatory frameworks, together with monitoring and compliance mechanisms need to be developed, financed, and enforced.

Status: Completed

Type: Staff Publications

Author: Thomas Maes, Fiona Preston‑Whyte

Year of publication: 2022

Publisher: Springer Nature Applied Sciences

Tags: Africa waste e-waste

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