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CLASP & Partners Lead Solar E-Waste Innovation Efforts Across Sub-Saharan Africa

Published: 12 November, 2019

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Over the past month, CLASP and our partners have furthered several initiatives aimed at accelerating efforts and mitigating the risks of solar e-waste management across sub-Saharan Africa. With the rapid and significant increase in the sale of solar lanterns, household solar systems, and associated products throughout the continent over the past decade, the off-grid solar industry is working to ensure sustainable growth over the long-term. CLASP is coordinating these efforts through the Efficiency for Access Coalition and the Global LEAP Awards Solar E-Waste Challenge, with our partners at GOGLA, Scaling Off-Grid Energy, Carbon Trust, USAID, and Power Africa.

On 15 October, CLASP—via the Efficiency for Access Coalition—facilitated Sustainable E-Waste Management: Best Practice for the Off-Grid Sector, a USAID workshop that brought together e-waste stakeholders and industry experts. At the workshop, CLASP presented new research on the solar e-waste market in sub-Saharan Africa, facilitated discussions on critical themes in solar e-waste management, and announced the launch of the second Global LEAP Awards Solar E-Waste Challenge.

To kick-off the event, CLASP’s Monica Wambui presented an overview of the solar e-waste market in sub-Saharan Africa. Her presentation included key insights from the new Solar E-Waste Market Scoping Report, highlighting the challenges and opportunities for solar e-waste innovation across the continent. Wambui emphasized that the most critical gaps in e-waste management include take-back and collection, data on e-waste volumes, and consumer awareness on safe e-waste disposal.

Some of the international women of CLASP.Some of the international women of CLASP: Nya Abagi, Makena Ireri, Hannah Blair and Monica Wambui at the Sustainable Solar E-Waste Management Workshop.

Following her presentation, representatives from the ResilientAfrica Network and UC-Berkeley presented new research on sustainable solar e-waste management and battery technologies. The USAID Sustainable Solar E-Waste and Battery Technology Management Report is a qualitative study on off-grid solar e-waste markets in Senegal and Uganda, highlighting consumer perspectives and current company e-waste management strategies.

Julianna Martinez presented additional e-waste management resources from GOGLA: the new E-Waste Toolkit and a Guidance for Governments. The E-Waste Toolkit is designed to help address the main challenges in setting up sustainable recycling chain through targeted modules: Introduction to Recycling, Financials of E-Waste, Design for the Reduction of E-Waste, and Policy & Regulation. The Guide offers advice to governments in designing effective policies and regulations that will enable the off-grid solar sector.

The workshop also included break-out sessions on the main gaps in solar e-waste management:

  • Product Design & Battery Technologies
  • Policy & Regulation
  • Informal Sector Engagement
  • Logistics and Processing
  • Incentives

CLASP East Africa team members Nya Abagi and Makena Ireri lead discussions aimed at leveraging the expertise in the room and mapping out next steps for stakeholders across government, industry, and investors.

Hannah Blair, CLASP Communications Associate, summarized the workshop in a presentation on best practices and recommendations. This presentation highlighted the importance of collaboration to accelerate solar e-waste management efforts across the continent; all stakeholders, from consumers to donors, have a role to play in ensuring the positive legacy of the off-grid sector.

Nya Abagi announces the second Solar E-Waste Challenge

Nya Abagi announces the launch of the second Global LEAP Awards Solar E-Waste Challenge.

The workshop closed with the announcement of the launch of the second Global LEAP Awards Solar E-Waste Challenge. This round of the competition, supported by USAID, will make $1.2 million available to companies with innovations in product design and battery technologies. While the first round of the competition focused on products once they have reached end-of-life, the second round emphasizes the importance of design with a consideration for recyclability, refurbishment, and reuse. The window to submit applications closes on 15 December 2019.

The first round of the Solar E-Waste Challenge selected eight winners from five countries across sub-Saharan Africa: three e-waste recycling companies and five solar companies. The projects span take-back and collection, consumer awareness campaigns, battery reuse, and product refurbishment and recycling. Over the 12-month implementation period CLASP, in collaboration with GOGLA, will collect data on the projects and develop case studies to be shared with the off-grid solar sector.

Monica Wambui at a Solar E-Waste Challenge site visit with WeTu in Mbita, Kenya.

Monica Wambui at a Solar E-Waste Challenge site visit with WeTu in Mbita, Kenya.

In the upcoming months, CLASP will release a Global LEAP Awards Medium blog series to outline winner projects and provide further context on the solar e-waste ecosystems in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Nigeria. With the growing sector interest and support for solar e-waste innovations, these case studies will present the first robust insights into sustainable and scalable e-waste management projects on the continent.


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