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Telecom Development And E-Waste Management In Nigeria

In a fast-paced telecom industry where speed and capacity define the networks, rapid advances in technology make it easier and convenient to change malfunctioning gadgets than to repair them. Also, the illegal and predatory e-waste value chain which encourages the movement of e-waste from developed to the developing countries adds another layer to the global challenge of handling e-waste.
According to a recent report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), electronic waste (e-waste) is now the fastest growing waste stream in the world. It is estimated that this waste stream spiked by about 48.5 million tonnes in 2018. The challenge is even more in Africa.
Generally, e-waste refers to electrical or electronic equipment that is waste, including all components, sub-assemblies and consumables that are part of the equipment at the time the equipment becomes waste. Apart from their solid and non-biodegradable nature, some of the toxic elements found in e-waste include lead, mercury, lithium and other ozone depleting substances.
Speaking at a public inquiry on e-waste regulations and disaster recovery guidelines convened by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Abuja, the executive vice chairman (EVC) of the commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, pointed out that due to the low gross domestic product (GDP) per capita/low income and the desperate quest for information in Nigeria, it is estimated that 75 per cent of electronics imported into the country are irreparable and toxic junk, saying the commission had developed a draft regulation on e-waste to curb this challenge.
“In line with the regulatory mandate and to keep pace with efforts to manage e-waste related issues, the commission has developed a draft regulation on e-waste. The draft regulations represent a holistic intervention aimed at providing clarity and delimiting the responsibilities of various stakeholders in the e-waste value chain within the telecommunications industry. While the draft regulation is industry-specific, it nonetheless keys into other initiatives at national and international levels,” he said.
On disaster recovery guidelines, the NCC boss said the commission, in line with its commitment to sustain the phenomenal successes recorded in the industry, was issuing a proactive containment measures that would mitigate disasters likely to affect business continuity in the event that they occurred.
“The guidelines on disaster recovery therefore ties into the commission’s wider risk management initiatives introduced by the code of corporate governance launched by the commission in 2014, which are aimed at protecting telecom companies from the threat of emergencies in their operations,” he added.
Danbatta said the guidelines covered subjects such as disaster profiling, preparedness, relief and recovery, pointing out that the commission uploaded the instruments onto its website earlier in January and requested stakeholders to submit their comments in line with its participatory rule-making process and in the best tradition of regulatory transparency.
The NCC’s director of legal and regulatory services, Mrs Yetunde Akinloye, while presenting the general overview of guidelines on disaster recovery and e-waste, said a fine of up to N10 million was being proposed against any company that flouted the regulations on e-waste.
The draft regulation said that every player within the e-waste management value chain – manufacturer, transporter, collection and disposal facility and recycler – must obtain authorisation from the commission after the coming into effect of the regulation.
It said that the commission might refuse, revoke or suspend an authorisation granted if the entity so authorised failed to comply with any of the conditions of its authorisation.
It added that it was mandatory for every manufacturer and producer generating e-waste to apply to the commission for an extended producer responsibility authorisation that would be valid for five years and renewable for another five years.
On the other hand, the guidelines on disaster recovery said that every network facility and service provider must have a disaster recovery plan comprising a strategic plan setting out the vision for utilisation of communication system for emergency purposes and guiding the network facility provider on its specific rules and responsibilities.

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