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CLASP Announces the Winners of the 2019 Global LEAP Awards Solar E-Waste Challenge

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On July 16-18, the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) hosted a solar e-waste festival in Nairobi, Kenya. CLASP joined our partners and industry experts to create new ideas, partnerships and projects to address the growing solar e-waste challenge in sub-Saharan Africa. The three-day event included expert presentations, participatory exercises, and a site visit to the WEEE Centre.

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Drew Corbyn, Program Manager Quality and Consumer Protection at GOGLA, delivers opening remarks at the E-Waste Festival in Nairobi.

The first day of the festival focused on the main barrier to improved e-waste management: product take-back from consumers at end-of-life. Participants discussed various take-back channels and mechanisms, including company collection points, informal collectors, and incentive-based programs. An emerging theme from discussions was the need to further engage with the informal sector, who process the majority of e-waste in the region. A concern was also raised regarding how to best to roll out an incentive program that would not distort the market. Among the suggestions was a post warranty service which would be included in the products' initial cost.

GOGLA reports the sale of 3.9 million off-grid lighting products and 350,000 off-grid solar appliances in the second half of 2018—although reported sales do not represent the whole global market for off-grid solar appliances. With the growth of the off-grid solar sector in sub-Saharan Africa, there is an increasing need to invest in solar e-waste management to mitigate the risks e-waste poses to human and environmental health.

The second day of the festival opened with a roundtable discussion on Kenya's draft e-waste bill. The bill was drafted by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), and aims to provide an appropriate legal and institutional framework for the management of e-waste, including handling, collection, transportation, recycling, and safe disposal. Furthermore, the bill includes provisions for batteries and could potentially expand to off-grid products with lobbying efforts.

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CLASP East Africa Team Lead, Sam Grant, announces the winners of the 2019 Global LEAP Solar E-Waste Challenge

In the afternoon, CLASP East Africa Team Lead Sam Grant announced the winners of the Global LEAP Solar E-Waste Challenge. The Solar E-Waste Challenge identifies and funds innovative approaches to e-waste management in the off-grid social sector in sub-Saharan Africa. The Challenge is supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), UK-government Department for International Development (DFID), and Shell Foundation-- through the Scaling Off-Grid Energy (SOGE) and Transforming Energy Access (TEA) programmes.

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2019 Global LEAP Solar E-Waste Challenge winning company representatives: Mellissa Wambui Solibrium Solar, Belinda Osayamwen and Adrian Clews Hinckley Recycling, Olivier Mbera Enviroserve Rwanda, Seth Munyambu WEEE Centre, Ronald Amollo WeTu Kenya, Charlotte Heffer d.light, Andrew Loebus Fenix, and Hardley Malema Solibrium Solar

The winners of the Challenge represent four recycling and four solar distribution companies, which will implement projects over a 12-month period in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, and Nigeria. The diverse projects span take-back and collection, recycling, and refurbishment. The majority of companies plan to engage the informal sector during project implementation. All the proposed activities will work towards the creation/achievement of a circular economy in the off-grid sector.

On the final day of the festival, participants visited the WEEE Centre, a local e-waste recycling facility in Nairobi. According to the Centre, Kenya produces 44 thousand tons of e-waste a year, but only 1% of this waste is recycled. WEEE Centre is aiming to address this challenge through safe e-waste disposal, secure data destruction, as well as training, sensitization, and awareness creation.

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WEEE Centre staff member dismantling a broken computer at the recycling facility in Nairobi, Kenya.

The three-day festival challenged the energy access sector to not only support, but actively engage with innovative approaches to solar e-waste management. As champions of the life-changing benefits of off-grid solar products, we must also champion responsible end-of-life management. We look forward to following the 2019 Global LEAP Solar E-Waste Challenge winners and iterating on the next round of the Challenge which will focus on product design and battery technologies.


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