The WEEE Centre in Nairobi, Kenya and 15 Other Countries in Africa

The WEEE Centre, Nairobi Kenya offers recycling services for ICT waste to the general public, business, learning institutions, government and NGOs in East Africa working closely with social enterprise Close the Gap project. The increasing amount of E-waste has created a need to recycle them in an environment-friendly way and there are opportunities to reuse the ICT products to bridge technological gaps in low-income countries. Thus WEEE Centre works on the treatment of collected ICT waste by creating possibilities of reusing, dismantling and sourcing of downstream management in environmental compliance and has safely handled more than 10,000 tonnes of e-waste since inception.

WEEE center is building the capacity to recycle and dispose of E-waste in an environment compliant manner currently in 15 countries in Africa. With its collaborative project with Close the Gap and Computers for Schools Kenya, schools; Community resource centers and organizations are provided with ICT materials that are discarded in Europe by extending the user life through state of the art refurbishment and maintenance and by so doing, bridging the technological gap in Africa. 

E-waste amount has been increasing in Kenya and it ends up in dumpsites or informally collected and disposed of in an environmentally unfriendly way but WEEE center works to improve this situation.

WEEE center objectives are

  • To provide safe treatment and disposal of E-Waste
  • Repairing and reuse of ICT products for extended user life


ICT waste is collected from different partners which include companies generating a large amount of ICT, schools associated with a social program, designated collection bins installed by environment authority in Kenya.

Under close the Gap project the ICT collected in Europe is checked for reusability and if they fall in standards, they are exported to Kenya for a second life in east Africa, bridging the technological gap and making ICT equipment's affordable for low-income economy supporting education & empowerment. WEEE center acts as an end body for ICT equipment one that is sold in East Africa by close the gap but the reverse logistics chain is not collecting 100% because of missing legislation enforcement.  

ICT equipment received is checked for repairing purposes if they are obsolete they are processed at the WEEE Centre to manual dismantling and separation of fractions. Other processes include shredding of plastics for reuse, repairing batteries, making battery packs, repurposing other materials and channeling difficult fractions further to downstream recyclers in Europe for final treatment.  The exports for difficult fractions to handle locally are done quarterly exported to smelters in Europe, WEEE center can treat 200 tonnes/month and has managed over 10,000 tonnes of e-waste safely. Through computers for schools Kenya, 400000 computers have been distributed in the past 15 years to schools and communities.  As of 2019 November over 5000 computers have gone to beneficiaries. The center is currently building its capacity in 15 countries in Africa. The batteries with only a particular segment dysfunctional are replaced and used in electric bikes and battery packs for solar power backups. The first provision in the center is testing of ICT device and it is repaired and brought again in value chain increasing the useful life of the product.

Figure 1- Testing of ICT devices                         Figure 2 - Storage of ICT devices                            Figure 3 - Apparatus for testing batteries




   Figure 5 - Manual dismantling of E-waste


 Figure 6 - Storage of dismantled fractions                                                                              Figure 7 -Storage of battery waste



Some of the challenges faced in business are missing regulations makes it challenging to collect the waste, EPR policy will strengthen the business. Also, cherry-picking by informal collectors and high transportation costs in the country are some other key challenges faced in addition to Lack of awareness around e-waste. 

The center makes a good business case as the demand for usable ICT devices is high in low-income countries as local manufacturers are not there and new products are expensive in local markets. However, there is early mover's advantage to engage with Govt. and organizations generating ICT waste in these countries. The technology of management are easy to adapt, however ICT collection and financing the operations must be explored locally if such operations are to be scaled. 



Figure 8- Copper extraction from separated waste in processing segment of WEEE center


To operate the facility average 15 people are always appointed and cost with the collection is approx. 50 USD per tonne with one source of the revenue stream in by selling repaired ICT products in the market. The recyclables are kept in Inventory and are sold as per market rates, the PCBs are sent to Europe in quarterly batches with average revenue of 8000 USD on 40 feet container. 

The close the gap and computers for school Kenya are two key initiatives where computers from Europe are brought to use bridging the technological gap. The computers provided to schools are offered maintenance from trained locals and continuous effort is made to bring them back to WEEE center when they are discarded, this adds to the social value of the project other than generating employment. The collection is the main gap is addressed by partnership & Downstream sourcing of Waste is done in compliance with standards and also ISO certification is obtained for the facility. The facility itself is designed using shipping containers and waste materials as construction materials. Currently, WEEE center is ISO 14001:2015 and 1SO 9001;2015 certified.



Name Bonnie Mbithi, Rethabile Moraa
Organization WEEE Center, Nairobi
Phone +254720350930