The Tanzania Times
Eastern Africa News Network

Korea empowers Tanzania, Uganda and South-Sudan in tackling electronic waste. Samsung joins team

Tanzania, Uganda and South-Sudan are hatching a joint initiative aimed at addressing increasing problems arising from electronic waste by empowering young people to learn skills of giving digital gadgets a second lease of life.

The three East African Community Member States in conjunction with Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Samsung Electronics have launched the ‘Design for Second Life Innovations,’ project in Arusha, a Northern Tanzanian City.

It is a transformative Initiative which seeks to Tackle E-Waste while at the same time empowering vulnerable communities.

This environment sustainability initiative is being achieved through the ground-breaking collaboration, involving the Samsung Electronics, MIT D-Lab, TWENDE Tanzania, Kulika Uganda, and the Youth Social Advocacy Team (YSAT) in South Sudan.

“Design for Second Life Innovations, is an innovative project which is set to address the dual challenges of electronic waste also known as e-waste, as well as societal needs in the East African region,” said the Ji-Eun Seong, the country’s Deputy Director of Korea International Cooperation Agency in Tanzania.

On his part the East Africa Managing Director for Samsung Electronics Taesun Lee who is also the Head of Subsidiary, said Samsung while working to ensure that the world become smarter through innovative technology, the company also takes great responsibility for environment conservation and wellbeing of people.

“And this is a two-year project to run for twenty three months and among other things  the initiative will spearhead second life options for Samsung devices, with a particular focus on agriculture, energy, education, and health sectors,” Lee explained.

“Once one buys a new phone, tablet or smart Television, what happens to the old one?” asked Amy Smith the director of MIT D-Lab, explaining that the initiative wants to create ‘second life,’ for the old electronic gadgets instead of them going to waste.

“Through a unique co-design experience, MIT students will join forces with vulnerable populations in Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan, leveraging MIT D-Lab’s Creative Capacity Building (CCB) methodology,” she said, adding that in South-Sudan the lab is building an innovative digital ecosystem.

The project’s primary objective is to generate sustainable solutions for upcycling Samsung mobile phones, effectively reusing valuable natural resources.

Beyond environmental impact, Design for Second Life Innovations aims to foster social innovation, providing tangible solutions to challenges faced by refugee settlements in Uganda and low-resource communities in Tanzania and South Sudan.

The grand opening promises a day filled with innovation, inspiration, and celebration, as the project takes a significant step towards creating real-world solutions. The event schedule will be shared closer to the date.

As it happens, electronic waste is estimated to reach a staggering 61.3 million metric tons in 2023, and experts warn that this poses a global challenge.

Simultaneously, it is being reported that populations in low-income regions in East Africa grapple with essential needs, such as healthcare, fertile land, water, and livelihood opportunities.

MIT D-Lab, in collaboration with project partners, will anchor the initiative in existing innovation centers within refugee camps and communities in Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan.

Through co-design workshops and mentoring, the program aims not only to address the e-waste crisis but to transform emerging technologies into viable small businesses.

How does it work? MIT D-Lab classes will engage students in a hands-on partnership with communities through design portals, using Samsung TVs and smartphones or tablets for video conferencing and field trips allowing for the testing and iteration of second life innovations.

John Rexford Nzira is the executive Director of TWENDE Tanzania, explained that KOICA bankrolls the initiative, while Samsung Electronics facilitates the Galaxy smartphones and tablets for the project while the rest of the parties are going to undertake the research projects.

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