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War on e-waste goes global

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In an effort to properly dispose of used electronics, the ITU has set up a variety of recycling initiatives with agencies around the world.

As digital and tech devices become more available worldwide, their responsible disposal is becoming a challenge for many countries. In response, ITU, the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technology (ICT) has partnered with the United Nations University (UNU), acting through its Vice Rectorate in Europe hosted Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) Programme, and the Solid Waste Association (ISWA) to form the Global e-Waste Statistics Partnership.

The main objectives of the partnership are to improve and collect worldwide e-waste statistics. As such, the partnership will support countries to produce reliable and comparable e-waste statistics, and will also deliver capacity building workshops and raise visibility on the importance of tracking and managing e-waste.

In addition to the increased production of electrical and electronic equipment worldwide, is the increased pace at which new technologies are being developed. As a result, the amount of electronic waste, or e-waste, is growing rapidly. Used, broken, or obsolete equipment, such as mobile phones, laptops, televisions and batteries contain substances that pose considerable environmental and health risks, especially if not disposed of properly. Most e-waste is not properly documented and not treated through appropriate recycling chains and methods. According to the United Nations Environment Program report Waste Crimes, up to 50 million tons of electronic waste are expected to be dumped in 2017. This represents a 20 per cent increase from 2015.

Measuring e-waste is an important step towards addressing the e-waste challenge. Statistics help to evaluate developments over time, set and assess targets, and identify best practices of policies. Better e-waste data will help to minimize its generation, prevent illegal dumping, promote recycling, and create jobs in the reuse, refurbishment and recycling sectors. In so doing, this will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG12, to “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”.

“ITU has a track record of providing the world with the most reliable and trustworthy ICT-related data,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “We are pleased to be part of this partnership and to lend our expertise and our long standing experience in data collection to assist countries to track and measure their e-waste, so that responsible e-waste management can be implemented.”

In November 2017, the partnership will publish the global e-waste statistics in a comprehensive report called the Global E-Waste Monitor 2017, which will provide a review of the e-waste challenge to inform country-level decision-making on e-waste management.

“Better statistics will inform policy making to minimize the generation of e-waste, prevent illegal dumping, promote recycling and create valuable jobs in the reuse, refurbishment and recycling sectors,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “This will also contribute to achievement of SDG12, which seeks to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns,” he added.

Through its work, the partnership will identify best practices of global e-waste management and further identify recycling opportunities. To expand its scope and accelerate progress, the partnership is also seeking to engage with other public and private partners interested in addressing the global e-waste challenge.

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Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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Sports streaming takes off

Live streaming of sports is coming of age as a mainstream method of viewing big games, as the latest FIFA World Cup figures from the UK show. Africa isn’t yet at the same level when it comes to the adoption of sports streaming, but usage is clearly moving in the right direction.

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England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden was watched by just under 20 million viewers in the UK via BBC One. While this traditional broadcast audience was huge, it was streaming that broke records: the game was the BBC’s most popular online-viewed live programme ever, with 3.8 million views. In Africa, the absolute numbers are lower but the trend towards streaming major sports events on the continent is also well under way.

According to DStv, live streaming of sports dominates the usage figures for its live and recorded TV streaming app, DStv Now. The number of people using the app in June was five times higher than a year ago, with concurrent views peaking during major football and rugby games.

Since the start of the World Cup, average weekday usage of DStv Now is up 60%. The absolute peak in concurrent usage for one event was reached on 26 June, during the Nigeria vs Argentina game. The app’s biggest ever test was on 16 June with both Springbok Rugby and World Cup Football under way at the same time, resulting in concurrent in-app views seven times higher than the peaks seen in June last year.

The World Cup has also been a major reason for new users to download and try out the app. First-time app user volumes have tripled on Android and doubled on iOS since the start of the tournament.

“While we expected live sports streaming to take off, it’s also been pleasing to see that the app is really popular for watching shows on Catch Up,” says MultiChoice South Africa Chief Operating Officer Mark Rayner. “Interestingly, some of the most popular Catch Up shows are local, with Isibaya, Binnelanders, The Queen and The River all getting a significant number of views.”

With respect to app usage, the web and Android apps are the most popular way to watch DStv Now, with Android outpacing iOS by a factor of 2:1.

“We’re continuing to develop DStv Now, with 4k streaming in testing and smart TV and Apple TV apps on their way shortly,” says Rayner. “The other key priority for us is working with the telcos to deliver mobile data propositions that make watching online painless and worry-free for our customers.”

The DStv Now app is free to all 10 million DStv customers in Africa. The app streams DStv live channels as well as supplying an extended Catch Up library. Two separate streams can be watched on different devices simultaneously, and content can also be downloaded to smartphones and tablets. The content available on the app varies according to the DStv package subscribed to.

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