Experts from across Africa learn from Rwanda Green Fund E-Waste Investment

As part of the 2017 UNESCO Africa Engineering Week, 25 waste management experts have toured Rwanda’s national e-waste recycling facility in Bugesera District. The project, led by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, was financed by the Rwanda Green Fund through a grant of approximately 1.5 million dollars. 
 
The leading engineers and waste experts, guided by Facility Manager Olivier Mbera, learned that the facility can dismantle 7,000 tons a year, making it the second largest e-waste recycling plant in Africa - after another in South Africa. Speaking to the guests, Olivier explained that the plant was conceived as part of Rwanda’s national e-waste management strategy.
 
“Our e-waste management strategy is made up of four components: developing the policy and legal frameworks, preparing a detailed inventory on e-waste quantities and future generation, building environmentally friendly infrastructure for e-waste management and connecting these facilities in Rwanda to regional and international recyclers,” Mbera said. 
 
The group toured different sections of the sophisticated facility and learned about the dismantling machines for each type of electronic equipment. The guests were impressed at how Rwanda has taken the initiative to invest in such an ambitious project. 
 
According to Raj Hemansing Prayag from the Mauritius Oceanography Institute, the investment is proof of how Rwanda is responding to climate change and the opportunities of the green economy. 
 
“This is a big investment in Africa. In my country, we had this thought but we couldn't make it a reality. We have to remember this kind of initiative is there to tackle the climate challenge. If we don’t have such plants, waste will kill our people. I must congratulate Rwanda. You know the safety of your people is the first priority,” said Raj. 
 
His words were echoed by Eva from Sierra Leone who was impressed by the good governance reflected in the project. 
 
“I am always concerned by how funds are used in our countries. Rwanda is the best example of a low corruption country and this e-waste facility is evidence of that. The funds were channeled to the needs of Rwandans and their safety in an era of computers. Other African leaders should come here and learn from the initiative,” she said. 
 
At the end of the tour, Rwanda Green Fund Communications Advisor, David Toovey, explained the work of the fund and its success over the last five years and how the e-waste project fits into its investment portfolio. 
 
The trip ended with a commitment from participants to take the lessons from the e-waste facility and the Rwanda Green Fund back to their own countries in support of sustainable development. 
 
About the E-waste Recycling Facility
 
Rwanda’s national e-waste recycling facility has been operational since December 2016 and has already prevented 279 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from entering the atmosphere. 
 
Highly trained technicians operate machines that are specific for each type of electronic device. For example, cathode ray tubes screens are dismantled by a special machine that has suction tubes and protective frames that collect the hazardous components of the screens. The technicians’ health is taken care of through regular health checks and protective clothing. The water used at the site is rainwater collected from the building and is then reused afterwards.
 
The facility has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Rwanda Education Board to refurbish computers and distribute them to primary school in rural areas. In addition, it is also planning to partner with the computer assembling company POSITIVO to refurbish broken devices. 
 
The plant has created 300 green jobs by employing young technicians who operate the facility, which was constructed entirely from ‘Made in Rwanda’ materials with a low embedded carbon cost. When district collection points are established, the project will have created more than 1,000 green jobs. 
 
Photos
African Waste Management Experts Visit Rwanda E-Waste Recycling Facility - Rwanda Green Fund Investment
 
 
Learn more about the e-waste project here