26 June 2018
SRI Project Phase One Successfully Closes in Egypt

The close-out meeting of the Sustainable Recycling Industries (SRI) project’s phase one, implemented by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), in cooperation with the Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE) and funded by Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), was held today.

The meeting was attended by Deputy ICT Minister Khalid El Attar; Head of International Cooperation Office Corinne Henchoz, who represents the Swiss Ambassador to Egypt; Adel El Shafei, who represents the Head of Waste Managment Department at the Ministry of Environment; the Regional Programme Manager of CEDARE Sustainable Growth Programme Hossam Allam; CEO of Sofies International of Switzerland David Rochat; and other stakeholders and media representatives.

Prior to the close-out meeting, the steering committee was held for the fifth and final time to conclude its series of periodic meetings for the first phase of the project under the agreement signed between MCIT and the Embassy of Switzerland in Cairo.

The project aims at providing integrated support and encouraging Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) participation in the fields of e-waste recycling in Egypt. This is in addition to enhancing the utilization of international expertise in this field and benefiting from the expertise of international consulting companies to provide technical support to Egyptian companies seeking to enter and target foreign markets.

MCIT adopts a green ICT strategy in collaboration with the participating parties, aiming to reduce the negative environmental impacts resulting from the expansion of the use of ICT devices. The strategy entails protecting the environment from technology harmful waste through using proper scientific methods to manage the life cycle of e-waste, including the assembly, disassembly, manufacturing, exporting and safe disposal.

In his speech, El Attar stated that this program is one of the important ones adopted by MCIT in cooperation with other participating entities. The first phase is considered a strong start towards strengthening and building a strategy based on principles and standards resulted from international studies, research and experiments. The strategy aims to promote the industry of e-waste recycling; enhance the capacity of SMEs to be able to enter the markets in accordance with international standards; and increase awareness of the significance of dealing with this type of waste to preserve the environmental resources and maintain a safe and clean environment. This is in addition to supporting industries operating in the e-waste recycling.

During the meeting, the outcomes of the project, resulted over the last two years since its launch in July 2016, were reviewed, including success stories of a group of young people and beneficiaries such as SMEs owners. MCIT also reviewed the mechanism for establishing a national system for the recovery of electronic and electrical devices and the features of MCIT road map for the national initiative for e-waste sustainable management. This is in addition to reviewing the partnership between the SRI Project and the Medical and Electronic Waste Recycling project, implemented in cooperation between the Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF/UNDP). The meeting also reviewed cooperation aspects during the past period since the start of partnership.

In her speech, Henchoz stated that Switzerland supports the solid waste management sector for its commitment to protecting the environment and the health and safety of Egyptian citizens, while providing highly efficient public services. The Swiss Government supports other projects integrated with the SRI project in the waste management sector, such as the National Solid Waste Management Programme (NSWMP) with the Ministry of Environment, and the Healthcare and Medical Hazardous Waste Management with the Ministry of Health and Population. These efforts go hand in hand with Switzerland's contribution to the urban development and water and sanitation sectors.

El Shafei said that efforts are being exerted by all parties involved to provide the appropriate environment to support a national industry and to attract local and foreign investments, aiming to promote the concepts of benefiting from the management of this type of waste, and provide safe recycling and resource recovery that can be used in other industrial processes.

In this context, Legislative amendments have been made recently through introducting a new waste management law, and a number of amendments were made to the Environment Law and other laws. This is in addition to developing a number of standards and executive procedures that would qualify for good governance of this type of waste.

On the other hand, an independent waste management organization has recently been established in coordination with all concerned parties to develop national policies on waste management, planning, coordination and monitoring.

For his part, Allam highlighted the significaance of e-waste recycling industries in creating jobs and attracting investments, as well as the possibility of positioning Egypt as a regional hub for African and Arab countries for waste recycling.

The first phase of the agreement has been completed, which included the completion of some studies on the types and quantities of e-waste in the formal and informal sectors and the formal sector needs related to the entities incubating the recycling projects in Egypt, while implementing a system of accreditation for companies operating in the field of recycling. The authority to accredit these companies is the Central Department of Inspection at the Ministry of the Environment.

Four SMEs were incubated and were provided with capacity building training, where two of them succeeded in registering with the Ministry of Environment. Two training courses were held, attended by waste recycling companies, inspectors and SMEs. A workshop on dismantling was held at one of the recycling factories. In addition, two visits to the recycling plants— one in Egypt and the other in Switzerland and Belgium— were organized, where a business model was prepared by the project experts, and implemented by the Egyptian government to manage the recycling of e-waste. A national committee was formed to manage waste recovery system in Egypt and the road map for the second phase is being prepared, which includes the implementation of the e-waste recovery system in Egypt and the preparation of a methodology for building capacities through an affilated entity— the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) and the Information Technology Institute (ITI)— to ensure the sustainability of the industry after the completion of the project while continuing to support SMEs, holding training courses and organizing field visits in this area.

The two-year agreement signed between the Swiss Embassy and MCIT worth 1.17 million Swiss francs. The agreement will contribute to building Egypt's green IT strategy, which is the basis of e-waste initiatives in Egypt, launched in cooperation with MCIT, the Ministry of Environment and other participating entities.

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