KOICA and Samsung Scoping Mission to Rwanda on E-waste

6 – 10 February 2023 , Kigali Rwanda a delegation of 7 representatives from Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Headquarters, Samsung Electronics, and MIT D-Lab conducted scoping mission for e-waste project implementation from the 6th to the 10th of February in Kigali, Rwanda. The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Rwanda team, as a key player in implementing e-waste management initiatives in collaboration with government institutions as well as private sector in Rwanda, arranged and facilitated the meetings and site visits during the scoping mission for the delegation.  The primary objectives of the KOICA and Samsung Electronics scoping mission was:
To introduce the ongoing upcycling project implemented by Samsung Electronics in collaboration with MIT D-Lab, and identify potential areas of engagement in Rwanda ;
• To conduct meetings with key government institutions and stakeholders in Rwanda in order to explore key priorities, policy framework, and gaps in e-waste sector ; 
• To assess the current state of e-waste collection and treatment process, and to share ideas to improve e-waste management system in Rwanda ;
• To meet partners and discuss opportunities in establishing partnership for collaboration in e-waste project implementation.

During the four-day scoping mission in Kigali, the delegation conducted meetings with various stakeholders in e-waste sector in Rwanda such as Government institutions including the Ministry of ICT & Innovation (MINICT),  Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority RURA, and Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA) who are in charge of establishing institutional framework and implementing national-level policies, private sector ; and EnviroServe and WasteZone  who are in charge of collection and treatment of e-waste in Rwanda, and other international cooperation partners in Kigali such as GIZ  and LuxDev who are working on circular economy in Rwanda.

The Samsung and KOICA delegation had meeting with GGGI Waste to Resources team. During the round introduction, the delegation briefly shared their ongoing upcycling initiatives in African countries and explained the purpose of the scoping mission, which is to explore current situation on e-waste sector and to have a discussion on the potential cooperation opportunities in e-waste project implementation. On behalf of GGGI Rwanda Representative, Arrabothu Dheeraj, the Senior Green Building Officer, welcomed the delegation and presented an overview of GGGI Rwanda Country Program. He introduced key thematic areas and highlighted the Waste to Resources Project, which is focusing on circular economy scheme including e-waste as a one of main areas. Kabera Telesphore, GGGI e-waste consultant, presented his work on e-waste situational assessment and capacity need assessment conducted in City of Kigali (CoK) and secondary cities in Rwanda. He delivered the ongoing e-waste initiatives, current policies and legal framework, and his findings on the value chain of e-waste management. Pamela Birungi, GGGI Senior Communications officer, presented the action plan for e-waste awareness campaign for next 6 months. Afterwards, the government officials from RISA (Rwanda Information Society Authority) and MINICT (Ministry of ICT and Innovation) joined the meeting and continued discussion with the team.

The team was able to visit the Samsung distribution and reparation center in Kigali. Since there are no official distributors and authorized retailers of Samsung Electronics in Rwanda which lead to low technology and equipment conditions, the center provides minor reparation services. Additionally, the team communicated with some informal shops where some electric devices are being collected and repaired, and found that the dismantling and extraction of recyclable parts is not done properly.

On the last day of the scoping mission, a small stakeholder workshop (hybrid) was conducted to recapture the scoping mission and to discuss the potential collaboration among the stakeholders/partners to implement the e-waste initiatives in Rwanda. Key government institutions (RURA and MINICT), private sector (Enviroserve and WasteZone), Samsung, and GGGI attended. Participants had an open discussion on opportunities and challenges of e-waste sector in Rwanda, and on the development of project implementation plan.Furthermore the delegation met with LuxDev to understand the ongoing e-waste initiatives supported by Luxembourg and to see if there is any cooperation opportunity with KOICA / Samsung in private sector engagement. Participants mainly discussed the possible future funding opportunities from Luxembourg. Below are some of the key points discussed Quentin Bourdeaux, CR of LuxDev Rwanda, suggested some funding opportunities that could be considered for e-waste initiative implementation: Newly launched investment facilities (Ireme invest and NDC facilities); LuxDev private sector investment instrument; and the Second phase of WTR project ;GGGI and Samsung Electronics teams agreed to  keep communicating on the future funding opportunities from Luxembourg, tentatively targeting the second phase of Waste to Resources project.

Finally at the end of the Samsung/KOICA scoping mission in Kigali, Yoonjung Ku, Senior Professional from Samsung Electronics and GGGI team visited KT Rwanda Networks Ltd (KTRN) which offers a wholesale provision of mobile broadband network in Rwanda. Participants shared some ideas on implementing the e-waste initiatives in Rwanda and discussed future cooperation opportunities focusing on collection of mobile phones. The key points discussed included KTRN has been wholesale telecom services provider, but is trying to change the business structure to include the retail businesses, and is currently communicating with the government (RURA, MINICT) ; and  KTRN is planning a strategy to increase KT 4G subscribers in Rwanda, by replacing the customers’ old 3G phones with 4G phones for free or at a low price. If implemented, the old mobile phones will be collected by KT, and there will be a potential to cooperate with Samsung. From the scoping mission, Samsung Electronics and KOICA team had fruitful meetings with multiple key stakeholders in e-waste sector in Rwanda. Based on the ideas presented during the meeting, KOICA and Samsung would make the confirmation of pilot project implementation by end of March, and will coordinate with GGGI team and government institutions for the necessary process. On top of that, the team will also consider other future opportunities such as second phase of Waste to Resources project, to scale up the initiative. As GGGI’s work on waste management is a critical component of efforts in achieving circular economy plans in Rwanda, those opportunities could also strengthen GGGI’s dedicated approaches in e-waste streams in Rwanda.