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Government to review Ban on the importation of used computers. PDF Print E-mail

The government might rescind the ban on the importation of used computers, the State Minister for Information and Communications Technology, Mr Thembo Nyombi, said early August before the Parliamentary Committee on ICT.

Quoted in a Daily Monitor publication http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Govt+to+review+computer+law/-/688334/1475560/-/txj1vu/-/index.html, Mr Nyombi said the development follows pleas from the Uganda Manufacturers Association and faith-based organisations that not all second hand computers imported are bad. He added that the government is presently mulling over the standards it would put in place, which would include the definition of used computers, in order not to lump even computers that should not be allowed into the country. The government instituted the ban on used computers in May 2009 ostensibly to protect the environment from electronic waste, given that once disposed of carelessly, electronics release toxins into the soil. But, earlier, government had done away with import duties on computers so as to increase the uptake of ICT, considered crucial in information storage and management especially now that the government is implementing its “E-Government” programme.

Quoted at http://faculty.virginia.edu/metals/cases/schwantes1.html, It is estimated that 60-80 per cent of all electronic waste and second-hand electric equipment from developed countries winds up in developing countries which lack capacity, policies, safeguards and enforcement tools to manage it safely. The 2009 ban was Uganda’s attempt to get control of this growing problem. Yet no sooner was it enacted than two trade groups – Dealers in Reconditioned Electronic Equipment (DIREE) and Uganda Electronics and Technicians Association (UETA) – petitioned Parliament to rescind the law.
DIREE and UETA argued that the ban would hurt Ugandan consumers by depriving them of low-cost, used computers and other electronic equipment. This would result in Uganda’s digital divide widening as most schools and tertiary institutions rely on donations and purchasing the affordable second hand computers.
On the other hand the business was likely to assume an underground life as it would not be easy to implement the ban. Most people were likely to resist it and go underground from where it will be business as usual.
A 2009 survey carried out by I-Network immediately after the ban found that 65.2 % of respondents wanted Government to institute a ban with considerations,  17.4 % no ban with conditions, 13% no ban at all and only 4.3% favoured a ban as suggested by Government.
It is therefore with a sense of relief to many people that the statement by the minister reconsidering Government’s position has been taken.

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