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UNIDO and Orange team up to drive circular economy in Egypt’s telecom sector

UNIDO and Orange have joined forces to launch this initiative which aims to transform the Egyptian mobile devices and network/IT equipment markets. An extensive network of local and international partners, including Nokia, Cordon Group which is establishing itself in Egypt, Sofrecom Group, eTadweer and many others, will support this transformation. This pilot project is part of the global Switch to Circular Economy Value Chains (SWITCH2CE) project, co-financed by the European Union and the Finnish Government.

This project will serve several key objectives to promote the circular economy in Egypt in ICT and electronic value chains:

  • Supporting the adoption of circular economy practices and policies: the initiative aims to accelerate the development of circular economy practices and policies in Egypt by empowering citizens and advocating behavioral change in favor of recycling and circularity. By supporting better recycling of electronic waste and extending the lifespan of equipment, this pilot project should have a positive impact on the environment, in particular through the reduction of the carbon footprint.
  • Develop local infrastructure: centers for reconditioning mobile devices and network/IT equipment will be created to serve the local market, with the ambition of making Egypt a hub in the field in Africa and the Middle East.
  • Develop expertise: local technicians will be recruited and trained, professional certification training programs will be introduced and new practices promoting circular transitions in the electronics sector will be implemented.

This pilot project aims to open up new possibilities for reusing products, extending their lifespan and reducing the amount of electronic waste generated. Refurbished and recertified network equipment and devices will be reintroduced to the local market, and residual e-waste will be collected and recycled by the pilot project partners. A vision based on the repair, durability and reconditioning of devices and equipment to give them a second life is a relevant approach to meeting the challenge of making the ICT and electronics sectors in Egypt and elsewhere more sustainable. the region.

The need to introduce the circular economy in Egypt and Africa
The Egyptian telecommunications market is one of the largest in Africa and the Middle East, both in terms of contribution to GDP and number of Internet and mobile users (respectively 85.8 million and 105.01 million in 2023 ). With an average annual growth rate of 16.7% over the financial years 2021 and 2022, the ICT sector is the public sector which has experienced the strongest growth over the last five years.

Egypt is also one of the largest producers of electronic waste in Africa. However, recycling companies are working to find economically viable methods to collect and convert these wastes into secondary resources, and 15-20% is recycled according to the United Nations Environment Program. Egypt has set ambitious targets to improve its waste management systems, including e-waste. The Egypt Vision 2030 plan plans to increase the recycling rate to 25% by 2030, while ensuring the safe disposal of 100% of hazardous waste.

“We are pleased to collaborate with the United Nations and our partners, Nokia and Cordon Group, to help build a circular economy in Egypt and Africa. The evolution of uses and the increase in the number of electronic equipment require a responsible reconditioning system that integrates local markets and includes the local population. The Orange group is proud to leverage its long-standing expertise to develop this virtuous economy and thus contribute to the social and economic development of the territories in which it operates,” explains Jérôme Hénique, Executive Director, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa. (OMEA).

“By creating coalitions and synergies across its entire ecosystem, Orange aims to reduce its environmental footprint. The circular economy is a concrete lever for decarbonization, the rational management of natural resources and the economic development of regions. These projects are fully in line with our ambition to reduce our CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2020 across all scopes 1, 2 and 3, as provided for in our “Lead the future” strategic plan. , adds Elizabeth Tchoungui, Executive Director in charge of CSR of the Group.

“With the support of the European Union and the Finnish Government, UNIDO is leading the global Switch to Circular Economy Value Chains (SWITCH2CE) project. In Egypt, we support the circular transition for the ICT and electronics sector, implementing innovative circular solutions in close collaboration with the private sector. This pilot project will tackle issues related to new technologies, business models and traceability, and demonstrate the economic opportunity of circular approaches. The project also collaborates with government partners, universities and NGOs to create an enabling environment for circularity through tailored policy and capacity building. » Mark Draeck, Chief Technical Advisor of SWITCH2CE, UNIDO.

CT Bureau

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