E-waste or cheap source of computer literacy? -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

E-waste or cheap source of computer literacy?

By Amar Guriro

KARACHI: The vendors of electronic gadgets have started a protest campaign against the federal government’s proposed move to ban the import of used electronic items, especially computers and their accessories.

The government’s is mulling the ban following the environmentalistsÂ’ concerns that second-hand electronic items pose radiation risk.

The shopkeepers said around 0.2 million people in Karachi who either own electronics shops or work there would suffer following the ban. They further said those who are unable to buy new computers at higher prices would also suffer, and consequently computer literacy in the country would also decline in the coming years.

Some shopkeepers said it is a conspiracy by multinational computer manufacturing companies, which want to increase the sale of their new products. The Karachi Electronic Dealers Association has put up banners in different parts of the city to protest the proposed ban.

However, the president of the association, Muhammad Idrees, has claimed that the government has decided not to impose the ban following the protest and a formal announcement in this regard would be made soon.

Karachi is the hub of electronic items in Pakistan and according to the wholesalers of electronic items, around 70 percent of the approximately 1 million computers that are imported every year from Europe, US and other developed parts of the world to Pakistan are sold in Karachi. The city also has the biggest electronics market in the country with around 4,000 shops selling second-hand computers.

An office-bearer of the association, wishing to remain anonymous, told this scribe that environmentalists and international organisations like Green Peace were demanding advanced countries like the US, China and others not to export electronic waste to developing countries like Pakistan and others, since it emits radiation and harms the human population.

The figures of different organisations reveal that around 40 to 50 million tonnes of e-waste is generated every year globally. The official data of the United Nations Environment Programme states that every year, around 20 to 50 million tonnes of electronic equipment waste is being generated worldwide and poses serious risk to human health and the environment. A UNEP reports states that China alone discards around four million personal computers every year.

Not only used computers and its accessories but mobile phones, televisions, CD and DVD players, printers etc are also part of the fast growing municipal waste throughout the world.
Source: Daily Times
Date:3/17/2010