Dr. Ifeanyi Ochonogor is the CEO, E-Terra Technologies Limited and President e-waste relief foundation. In this chat with SUNDAY AIKULOLA, he insisted there is an urgent need to enlighten and educate Nigerians on the dangers of e-waste.
Tell us about E-terra Technologies
E-Terra Technologies is a pioneering company into the eco-friendly management of electronic waste (e-waste); recycling, refurbishing and data destruction of storage devices in alignment with the global vision of a greener planet. Our key area of specialty is the eco-friendly management of e-waste using integrated state-of-the-art technologies. We are young but fast-growing, very capable and truly Nigerian; Some of E-Terra’s accomplishments are three ISO Certifications 9001, 14001, 18001, numerous local and international awards.
At a recent stakeholder meeting, you argued that there is an urgent need to enlighten and educate Nigerians on the dangers of improper handling and disposal of e-waste; can you shed more light on this?
Yes, there is a need for concerted enlightenment and education on the dangers of e-waste and the need for proper handling and disposal of the same through the combined efforts of government and industry stakeholders. It has been established that the rising cases of diseases like cancer, diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases are caused by undue exposure to radioactive substances resulting from improper disposal of electronic waste.
The exponential growth in the use of technology devices such as computers, telephones, tablets, TVs have made these tools part of our everyday lives whether as individuals or businesses. As these devices reach their end of life, they become obsolete and unwanted and the challenge of properly disposing them in an environmentally sustainable manner that does not harm humans and the environment is important. Apart from health issues, improper handling of electronic devices can result in data breaches and loss of confidential information that can cost business monumental losses in terms revenue. The United Nations and World Health Organization (WHO) had linked increasing cases of cancer, kidney and liver diseases in Nigeria to environmental pollution. Certification of companies importing the electronics is also important to ensure they meet international best practices.
Do you think there is any role government can play to tackle the scourge of e-waste in the country?
Yes, there is the need to make relevant amendments to existing ICT Laws and institutional framework to insert mandatory provisions and policies for anti-dumping, responsible and accountable usage, and end of life and safe disposal of electronic equipment for compulsory compliance by manufacturers, vendors, and distributors of computers and electronic gadgets. On the part of government and regulators, there is a need to encourage companies like our own through tax incentives such as putting e-waste companies in the pioneer status category, reduce the incidence of multiple taxation and municipal charges and offering rebates and waivers on equipment importation and port clearance charges.
I would also commend efforts of the government and its Agencies such as the Director-General of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) Professor Aliyu Jauro, Federal Ministry of Environment, UNEP, The Global Environment Facility (GEF), Basel Convention Coordinating Centre for the Africa Region in Nigeria (BCCC Africa) and other Stakeholders in the e-waste industry.
You are also the founder of the e-waste relief foundation (erf), could you explain what the foundation is all about?
The e-Waste Relief Foundation (ERF) is a Non-Governmental Organization formed with the primary aim of tackling the scourge of e-waste crises in Nigeria and the West Africa sub-region. In a nutshell, the aims and objectives of the foundation are to help provide nationwide environmental capacity building and technology support in the collection, handling and disposal of electronic waste in Nigeria; to help promote and create environmentally conscious grassroots involvement with the aim of protecting and developing communities, as well as creating job opportunities for school leavers who will serve as e-waste collectors and handlers. We plan to support the ecosystem of stakeholders (that is government, industry, academia and civil society) geared towards partnership and collaboration opportunities with the aim of solving e-waste crises in Nigeria.