Amr Talaat, Minister of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), and Yasmin Fouad, Minister of Environment have met with Paul Garnier, Swiss Ambassador to Egypt to discuss ways to activate the “sustainable recycling industries project in Egypt”, in light of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the MCIT and the Swiss embassy in Egypt in 2016.
The MoU aimed to support the integration and sustainable participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in recycling e-waste in Egypt, after extending the project from 2020 to 2023.
Talaat said that the increasing rates of digitisation and the trend towards digital transformation within the framework of the strategy of building Egypt’s digital infrastructure has become necessary to adopt scientific methods for the safe disposal of electronic and computing waste in an eco-friendly way.
In a press statement, the MCIT said that the cooperation project includes creating new jobs for young people in the field of e-waste treatment, as well as programmes to train a large number of young people to specialise in this, in addition to encouraging SMEs to participate in e-waste recycling industries. The project also includes reusing parts of these computers for other purposes.
Talaat also praised the cooperation with the Swiss embassy, which will contribute to providing technical and technological support in the field of safe e-waste management. He noted that the MCIT and the Swiss embassy will launch an awareness campaign for citizens about the dangers of unsafe disposal of electronic and digital waste and how to properly dispose of it. The campaign will also address the importance of using environmentally-friendly electronic devices.
For her part, Fouad said that e-waste represents a major challenge, especially with Egypt’s current digital transformation and the expanded use of photovoltaics to generate electricity. These activities will likely result in much more e-waste, which will require a speedy response to sustainably managing this kind of waste and develop proper solutions in cooperation with all stakeholders and development partners.
She added that, despite the high profitability of e-waste recycling and its increased investment, the recycling of e-waste requires great care due to the resulting hazardous waste of electronics.
She noted that the Ministry of Environment, together with the MCIT, has taken steps to limit e-waste in Egypt, estimated at 88,000 tonnes annually. Both ministries are also working on putting forward legislations to convert the informal sector working in e-waste into a formal sector in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme through the safe-disposal project. There are about seven factories whose licencing was approved, allowing them to safely recycle e-waste. Coordination is also taking place with the MCIT to find a mechanism that allows formal e-waste recycling to collect the appropriate waste.
For his part, Garnier said, “We are very pleased to share our experience with Egypt. The sustainable recycling industries project will follow comprehensive approaches aimed at creating better economic conditions to improve business chains and create jobs for both the private and informal sectors. Activities will depend on the concept of a cyclic economy, which would curb the effects of climate change by reintegrating secondary raw materials into recycling.”
The project’s expansion is meant to consolidate the results achieved, like establishing a committee to oversee the e-waste recycling industry in Egypt, developing technical standards, and training environmental monitors from the Ministry of Environment. This is deemed part of a larger programme implemented in five countries, namely Egypt, Colombia Ghana, Peru, and South Africa, funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.
The second phase of the project will be implemented through the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Sciences and Technology, the World Resources Forum, and Sophies Consulting.