The environmental dimension of the ICT and digital economy deserves great attention more than other dimensions.
The development of Information and communications technology (ICT), as core of the digital economy, presents contradictory effects on the environment. According to expert the main perspectives of environmental impact of ICT, especially in relation with Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE, e-waste) including telecoms infrastructure cable debris around the city. A further analysis of ICT impact on environment and e-waste is done on two levels: the impact of ICT sectors and the impact of electronic applications (including the electronic commerce). This report christens to the Nigeria digital economy as it regards to WEEE and cable debris generated from the development of the digital economy and the significant challenges which the systems of collection, treatment and disposal must meet the environmental requirements.
Environmental impact of ICT and implications for e-waste management in Nigeria has no record as it regards to environmental requirements before any company in the telecoms sector as at today. Just like most developed countries have in place legislation mandating electronic manufacturers and importers to take-back used electronic products at their end-of-life based on the principle of extended producer responsibility.
The Key takeaway words are: information and communications technology (ICT); digital economy; environmental impact; waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE, e-waste); and Telecoms cable infrastructure debris.
Even ministry of environment in the country cannot purely define “What role technology plays in terms of environmental impact and environmental sustainability”. Since 90s till date, the economic sector is undergoing a fundamental transformation characterized by developing and disseminating information and communications technology (ICT) vis-as-vis the emergence of ICT as one of major contributors to the Nigeria GDP. And also helps increasing productivity in various economic sectors, the sustained performance of several technological revolutions and, most importantly, the whole sector become the engine of economic.
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The whole process of transition from predominantly industrial economy to the ICT-based economy was achieved gradually by the exponential growth of mobile communications via Internet users. The process enhancing the ICT sector contribution to economic growth and job creation, the restructuring of large companies’ informational systems, accelerated development of electronic commerce, etc.
In some advance countries’ organizations obtain the operating license to take over responsibility for the annual objectives of collection, reuse, recycling and recovery of waste electrical and electronic equipment including cable debris from telecoms infrastructures operations.
Thus, each operator is faced with economic transformation in the meaning of digitization in the works there are different perspectives about the size, predisposing factors and implications of this complex process. This complex process is referred to: “Economics of Innovation”, “network economy”, “weightless economy”, “knowledge economy”, “e-economy” or simply “new economy” the term “digital economy” is considered conclusive for the integration of ICT in specific economic activities and processes. Digital economy can be regarded as a new dimension to the old economy, the manufacturing of products, services, lifelong learning and innovation are made possible by modern technology support transmission and processing in the context of market globalization and sustainable development.
According to research, the concept of digital economy emerged in the early ’90s in the United States, as an effect of the use of personal computers, mobile occurrence, development software technology, the explosive growth of data networks and Internet-based services.
The implications of the digital economy development in terms of three essential characteristic which are: the economic, social and environmental impact respectively. The physical infrastructure for storing, analyzing, processing and transmission of information is a means of generating large quantities of waste electrical and electronic equipment, inadequate management of which has a strong impact on the quality of environmental factors.
Digital Economy: Uninterrupted Management enables to realize on-line transactions, having a significant impact on economic processes and relations between the different competitors. From a social point of view, the easily sharing of information between persons and organisations develops communication in public space, social initiative and integration of individuals into different groups and organizations. Digital economy definitely marks a new stage of human civilization, changing the conduct of daily activities through the intensive use of IT in all spheres of human existence.
The environmental dimension of the digital economy deserves great attention more than other dimensions, because it is one of the important aspects of sustainable development, according to expert. In addition, history has shown that economic development is always associated with certain environmental consequences. Understanding the possible environmental impact of the digital economy is important because it provides valuable insights to identify and coordinate environmental policy research, strategic objectives and various economic instruments that can be used for prevention and control of externalities.
The further research showed that the environmental impact of the digital economy’s debates and assessments of social and economic impact of digital economy lasted for decades. However, the implications of the information society were not explicitly considered in the context of these changes. In general, environmental effects of the digital economy are a double-edged sword, because they have both positive and negative effects.
The rapid pace of technological change in the field of electronics has made appliances for homes and office equipment both affordable and widely used. The extreme growth rates but also ever-increasing obsolescence rates result in large quantities of electrical and electronic equipment including cable debris being added to the waste stream.
Impacts of Information and Communication Technologies on Environmental Sustainability
A broad range of goods is classified as electrical and electronic equipment, including large and small household appliances; Information and technology (IT), Equipment including computers, computer games and peripherals; cellular telephones and other telecommunication equipment; portable electronic devices, video and audio equipment, including MP3 players and peripherals; and electrical tools. According to the report, if the electronic waste is recycled and disposed without any controls, there are predictable negative impacts on the environment and human health.
The exponential increase of the mobile communications and of the number of the Internet users has led the ICT sector’s contribution to the economic growth. These gave in restructuring of the companies and businesses in general in order to benefit from the new technologies. The accelerated development of the electronically commerce represents elements of the digital economy. Optimists summarize the potential positive impact of the digital economy by using the “3D effect” de-materialization, de-carbonization, and de-mobilization.
The experts based on several arguments that the production, processing and transfer of information becomes increasingly important higher in all types of economic activity, compared with production of material goods, whose importance is inevitably decreasing, we believe that replacing the “atom” with the “bit” provides globally significant energy savings, materials and supplies.
It was further supported that changing economic structure led to reduction of highly polluting industries such as mining, manufacturing and industrial growth as “clean” such as the IT and services sector. Some experts are of the opinion that pollution will be decoupled from economic growth due to reduction material and energy consumption in production processes and supply of goods and products. Also, the opinions are becoming stronger that technological specialists are able to promote significant reduction of pollution, more efficient use of natural resources and reducing energy consumption by developing “clean technologies”.