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Africa becoming the dumping ground for eWaste

Africa becoming the dumping ground for eWaste

Africa is fast becoming the dumping ground for eWaste. A growing amount of computer equipment from Western nations is being found on toxic eWaste dumps throughout Africa and is being pulled apart by children as young as five.

A computer monitor from a prominent Australian bank was recently found on a toxic eWaste dump in Ghana. This raises serious questions about the integrity and regulations of Australia’s growing eWaste problem and even though it is illegal to export redundant computer equipment, that is considered hazardous waste, it is still happening.

In South Africa, there are laws that regulate the disposition of eWaste, these include Protection of Personal Information Act 2013 (PoPI 2013), the National Environmental Waste Management Act 2008 (NEMWA 2008) and the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (CPA).

Xperien CEO Wale Arewa said penalties for poor disposal of redundant IT assets could be costly but this could be prevented by adopting an IT asset disposition policy. This can be helpful in managing the decommissioning of IT devices and their contents appropriately.

Most companies have masses of eWaste waiting to be discarded, this could include servers and storage devices, computers, tablets, phones and fax machines. They have the option of donating them to charities, throwing them away or selling them, but the penalties for poor disposal could be costly.

The biggest problem is the information stored in these devices. When we discard any IT equipment, we also release that information. Companies don’t really know what information is stored on a specific device,” he explained.

Information stored on the IT equipment can lead to the loss of other information and a company’s reputation can be damaged. Regaining that reputation can be costly, time-consuming and maybe not even possible.

eWaste may contain information such as databases, personal data, private information, passwords, application IDs, links to secure websites and information, financial data, intellectual property, healthcare information and data on friends and relatives. Losing intellectual property information could result in severe revenue damage.

Arewa points to IT asset disposition policy (ITAD) as a documented process for determining the effectiveness of IT organisations and their ability to protect their business. “Companies need to decommission IT devices and their contents effectively. A proper policy includes the need to control the data that is stored on the IT equipment, its disposition, removal, and transfer.”

He said there are two reasons for having an IT asset disposition policy. “You need to track your assets and ensure you efficiently use them during their normal life. This is a matter of ensuring that your investment is successful.”

Also, the ability to ensure that you comply with the increasing number of regulations and compliance requirements surrounding IT assets. IT asset disposal is also a concern to environmental organisations so you need an enforceable policy with standardised practices across your organisation to make this work,” he added

Creating a policy means one should develop a set of best practices and a framework that includes documenting all the IT assets. More importantly, one needs to set up policies for data destruction, asset tracking, complying with data security standards, and regulatory compliance requirements.

Discuss the ITAD policy with others in your organisation including procurement, finance, facilities management and legal. Security may have the most to contribute. Also, do not underestimate the potential risks, plan for IT disposal as you plan for the lifecycle of the IT devices,” he added.

Finally, use your employees to help flag violations. Also ensure that your employees know that when they do not adhere to the policy, there will be penalties,” he concluded.


 

About The Author

SADC Correspondent

SADC correspondents are independent contributors whose work covers regional issues of southern Africa outside the immediate Namibian ambit. Ed.

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia

Promotion

20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.