The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and global telecommunications operator Orange have joined forces to pioneer an initiative aimed at revolutionizing Egypt's mobile device and network equipment markets. Over the next two years, they will pilot a viable business model for creating a market for refurbished mobile phones and radio access network equipment in Egypt. This pilot is part of the global Switch to Circular Economy Value Chains project (SWITCH2CE), co-funded by the European Union and the Government of Finland.
Egypt’s telecommunications market is one of the largest in Africa and the Middle East
, both in terms of GDP contribution and number of internet and mobile phone users (85.8 million and 105.01 million respectively in 2023). With an average annual growth rate of 16.7% in FY 2021/2022, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector is the highest-growing state sector over the past five years, increasing its contribution to country's GDP from 3.2% in fiscal 2018-2019 to over 5% in fiscal 2022-2023.
Egypt is also among the highest generators of e-waste in Africa. Yet, recycling companies are struggling to find economically viable methods to collect and convert these materials into secondary resources, resulting in only 15% of Egypt’s e-waste being recycled. Egypt has set ambitious targets to improve its waste management systems, including for e-waste, as outlined in Egypt Vision 2030. These include increasing the overall coverage and efficiency of waste collection, with a target of 80% and 90% respectively by 2030. Plans also include increasing the recycling rate to 25% by 2030 and ensuring 100% safe disposal of hazardous waste.
This pilot will focus on several key objectives to realize the circular potential of Egypt's ICT and electronics value chain:
- 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 engaging citizens and advocating for behavioral change towards recycling and circularity. This pilot project is expected to have a positive impact on the environment and reduce carbon footprints by formalizing the recycling of e-waste and extending product lifetimes.
- Developing a local infrastructure
Network equipment and mobile devices refurbishment centers will be established to serve the local market, with ambitions to become an Africa & Middle East hub.
- Capacity Development
Local technicians will be recruited and trained, vocational certifying training programs will be introduced, and new practices that promote circular transitions in the electronics sector will be implemented, including with the informal sector.
An extensive network of local and international partners, including Nokia, Cordon Group, Sofrecom Group, eTadweer, and many others, will join this transformation. The General Authority for the Suez Canal Economic Zone and respective government partners will play vital roles in creating an enabling environment for this pilot and the overall circular transition in Egypt’s electronics value chain.
This pilot aims to open new potential for reuse of products, extend their longevity and reduce the generated e-waste. Refurbished and recertified network equipment and devices will re-enter the local market, the residual e-waste will be collected by pilot’s partners and recycled. A vision based on repair, second life, sustainability and refurbishment of devices and equipment is a relevant approach to address the challenge of a more sustainable ICT and electronics sector in Egypt and in the region.
Switch to Circular Economy Value Chains is an initiative that assists EU multinational companies and their suppliers from developing countries to switch to more circular economy approaches and practices in three selected value chains: Plastic Packaging, Textile & Garments, and ICT and Electronics. The overall objective of SWITCH2CE to Circular Economy Value Chain Project is to support the “Transformation towards a circular economy”, including to contribute to sustainable growth, low carbon and climate resilient development, decent jobs creation, and safer, healthier, and pollution-free environment.
SWITCH2CE is co-funded by the European Union and the Government of Finland, led by UNIDO, in collaboration with Chatham House, Circle Economy, and the European Investment Bank. Learn more at: www.switchtocircular.eu
Orange is one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators with revenues of 43.5 billion euros in 2022 and 137,000 employees worldwide on 30 September 2023, including 73,000 employees in France. The Group has a total customer base of 296 million customers worldwide on 30 September 2023, including 251 million mobile customers and 25 million fixed broadband customers. The Group is present in 26 countries. Orange is also a leading provider of global IT and telecommunication services to multinational companies under the brand Orange Business. In February 2023, the Group presented its strategic plan "Lead the Future", built on a new business model and guided by responsibility and efficiency. "Lead the Future" capitalizes on network excellence to reinforce Orange's leadership in service quality. For more information: www.orange.com, www.orange-business.com