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Digital switch over: NBC allays fear over e-waste challenge

By Emeka Aginam

While  Nigeria strives to achieve digital switch over by  2017 with  growing concern over e-waste challenge, the Director, National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, Mr. Emeka Mba has assured on prosper electronic waste management.

With the planned  building of a massive N197 billion ($1bn) manufacturing plant  for set-top box in Abule Egba, Lagos State, e-waste issue, keen observers said  is expected acroos the nation.

It would be recalled that Nigeria was not able to switch  over to digital terrestrial television last June  as a result of funding challenge.

The NBC DG who was reacting to questions on how best  to manage  e-waste in the migration process  told IT Journalists during the signing of Memorandum of understanding between Media Concepts International, MCI, a Set Top Box, STB, manufacturer licensed by the NBC  in partnership with South Korea, KAON recently said  that the Commission was  making arrangement for collection center across the nation.

Although   Nigeria’s  transition from analogue to digital television broadcasting is expected to  exacerbate a national e-waste problem, he assured  that the  Commission was already  discussing with relevant regulatory agencies in Nigeria on how best to manage and address e-waste.

“We will put in place mechanism to manage e-waste. We are having discussion with other regulatory agencies on how best to e-waste changes in the transition process” he said.

It would be recalled that the former Minister of Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson had

also  assured Nigerians that the volume of electronic waste  that would be generated from the  migration from DSO  would not affect the migration process.

Before now, according to  industry watcher, the  informal  processing of electronic waste in developing countries may cause serious health and pollution problems, as some of these countries may have limited regulatory oversight of e-waste processing.

According to them,  the volume of e-waste from analogue television and other electronic devices might hamper a smooth migration process, since Nigeria did not have recycling plant that could process and covert analogue electronic gadgets into digital devices.

E-waste is categorized as hazardous waste due to the presence of toxic materials such as mercury, lead and brominated flame retardants are considered as hazardous waste, according to the Basel Convention.

The Basel Convention started to address e-waste issues since 2002 which included, among others, environmentally sound management; prevention of illegal traffic to developing countries and; building capacity around the globe to better manage e-waste.

Meanwhile, e-waste  is not only a global environmental hazard, it’s a burgeoning multimillion-dollar criminal business, according to a United Nations report released recently.

The report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has said that  as much as 90 percent of the world’s electronic waste , everything from used computers to smartphones,  is illegally traded or dumped each year.

Much of the e-waste winds up in Africa and Asia. “We are witnessing an unprecedented amount of electronic waste rolling out over the world. Not only does it account for a large portion of the world’s non-recycled waste mountain, but it also poses a growing threat to human health and the environment, due to the hazardous elements it contains,” Achim Steiner, U.N. Undersecretary-General and executive director of UNEP, had  said in a statement.



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