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    MCIT, Environment Ministry, Swiss Embassy Collaborate in E-waste Recycling Project

    Cairo, 11 March 2020

    The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has met with the Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad and the Swiss Ambassador to Egypt Paul Garnier. They discussed implementing the Sustainable Recycling Industries (SRI) Programme in Egypt.

    This comes within the framework of 2016 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked between the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and the Swiss Embassy, for supporting integration and the sustainable participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in e-waste recycling in Egypt. They agreed on extending the project from 2020 to 2023.

    The ICT Minister said that in light of the growing digitization processes and the approach towards digital transformation, within the framework of the strategy of building digital Egypt, it has become necessary to adopt scientific methods for the safe disposal of electronic and computing waste in an eco-friendly way.

    Talaat commended the cooperation between MCIT, the Ministry of Environment and the Swiss Embassy in this field, through carrying out a project that contributes to governing the disposal of electronics and computers used in government offices, banks and the ICT sector, as well as recycling them in an eco-friendly way, reducing e-waste hazards.

    He added that the cooperation will include creating new job opportunities for youth in e-waste treatment and carrying out training programs to qualify them to work in this field, as well as encouraging SMEs to participate in e-waste recycling industries. The project will also involve reusing old computer parts for other purposes.

    Talaat highlighted the significance of the project in preserving the environment, creating jobs and achieving economic and societal return. He also praised the collaboration with the Swiss side, which will help provide technical support in the safe management of e-waste.

    The ICT Minister added that the three sides are currently cooperating to launch a campaign to raise peopleís awareness of the risks of the unsafe disposal of electronic and digital waste, and how to dispose of it properly, as well as the importance of using eco-friendly, high quality electronic equipment.

    In addition, Talaat stated that the involved parties are studying the measures that need to be taken to develop a governance framework to ban the export of harmful, poorly made mobile phones.

    A number of important measures have also been taken to develop mechanisms for disposing of e-waste in the institutional and commercial sector, through coordinating with the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to govern the mechanisms of disposing of old computers used in banks. This is in addition to coordinating with the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) to dispose safely of old telecommunication devices, in telephone exchanges, and computers with electronic boards.

    Talaat said that the Ministry of Financeís General Authority for Government Services (GAGS) is taking care of old computers in the government sector, adding that there have been discussions with the Minister of Finance regarding the governance of the safe disposal of such devices.

    For her part, the Minister of Environment said that e-waste is very challenging to handle and manage properly, especially with Egypt going through digital transformation in different areas, and the growing use of solar panels for generating electricity. These activities are expected to result in more e-waste, which calls for addressing the challenges facing the sustainable management of this waste and developing proper solutions, in cooperation with all the stakeholders and work and development partners.

    This is in addition to overcoming the obstacles in the e-waste recycling sector, supporting the entrepreneurial initiatives contributing to the safe waste management system and creating a road map to implement such system, so Egypt can deal with the expected amount of e-waste, properly.

    Although the e-waste recycling sector makes high profits, and despite the Ministry of Environmentís efforts to stimulate investment in this sector, e-waste recycling needs to be handled with extreme caution, as it results in hazardous waste, to preserve human health and the environment.

    Fouad added that the Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with MCIT, has been inventorying the e-waste recycling sector, with the size of e-waste in Egypt amounting to 88,000 tons, annually. The Environment Ministry has also developed legislations to transform the unofficial e-waste sector into an official one, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), through the safe disposal of e-waste project.

    The Ministry of Environment has granted license to seven factories to recycle e-waste safely. In addition, it is coordinating with MCIT to develop a mechanism to help official waste recycling factories get the ICT Sectorís e-waste.

    Still remains the biggest challenge in the technology used to recycle e-waste, the safe disposal of dangerous parts and raising citizensí awareness. For this, the Ministry of Environment, MCIT, UNDP and the Environmental Compliance Office (ECO) of the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) are collaborating to create E-Tadweer application, allowing citizens to dispose of their e-waste, in return of discount vouchers that can be used when purchasing electronics or other products from the companies supporting the application. This is in addition to calling for citizens to reduce their consumption of electronics.

    Fouad said that the Ministry of Environment has been taking a number of measures, for years, including this collaboration with MCIT and the Swiss side that has a vast experience in dealing with e-waste and the screens in customs. This is in addition to collaborating with the Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE) that has an experience in conducting the first special studies on hazardous waste, as well as with UNDP, the Ministry of Finance and the private sector.

    The Ministry of Environment has also collaborated with the Ministry of Higher Education and university students, through a joint protocol for raising youthís awareness on e-waste and recycling.

    For his part, Garnier stated that the Swiss side is pleased to share its experience with Egypt. The project will be followed by comprehensive approaches that aim to create enabling economic conditions for improving business chains and creating jobs for the private and informal sectors.

    Such activities will be based on the circular economy that targets mitigating climate change impacts through re-incorporating secondary raw materials into recycling, added Garnier.

    Extending the project aims to further the results achieved, represented in creating a committee for supervising the e-waste recycling industry in Egypt, developing technical standards and training environmental observer at the Ministry of Environment. The project extension is part of a bigger program implemented in five countries: Egypt, Columbia, Ghana, Peru and south Africa, and funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

    The activities are expected to add to the project accomplishments, with working to overcome its challenges and contributing effectively to setting policies, legislations, benchmarks and technological standards and developing works.
    The second phase of the project is to be implemented by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), the World Resources Forum and Sofies consulting firm, with MCIT and CEDARE being the local implementing partner of the project.

    The meeting was attended by the Deputy ICT Minister for Administrative Development, Digital Transformation and Automation Khaled El Attar, and a number of officials from both MCIT and the Ministry of Environment.

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