This is how Microsoft office will look like in the near future

For those tired of their current Microsoft Office user interface (UI), the company will soon sort you out. This comes after they teased the future of its Office UI and design today, and it involves some big changes to the current interface. The software giant has been gradually improving Office with its Fluent Design system over the past couple of years — adding new icons, a dark mode, and changing the ribbon toolbar by making it smaller and easier to use. The next stage of Microsoft’s Office design sees the company focus even further on simplicity.

According to the corporate vice president of design and research at Microsoft Jon Friedman says “The next wave of Microsoft 365 UX changes will go even further by fading brand colors from app headers and exploring adaptive commanding,This lets you move a simplified toolbar around the screen to wherever you find it most helpful, using progressive disclosure to contextually reveal commands.”

Microsoft originally introduced its current ribbon interface into Office 2007, and the company is now ready to move beyond it. Microsoft has been gradually simplifying the ribbon across mobile and the web, but the new designs shared today are certainly a big step beyond the ribbon. Microsoft’s simplified Office interface puts a lot more focus on the actual content you’re creating, rather than the chrome.

Friedman said that , “We’ll be further advancing our seamless, cross-suite Search to bring relevant information right to your fingertips. Throughout, we’re grounding everything we build in deep research into the nuances of attention. Some moments call for lengthy, sustained concentration. Others, such as many mobile scenarios, are optimal for micro-tasking. By designing for multiple cognitive states, focused experiences throughout the Microsoft 365 ecosystem minimize external distractions, lessen self-interruptions, and jumpstart flow.”

It is still unclear when these changes will arrive in Office apps, the web, and elsewhere in Microsoft 365. “While some of these changes will roll out within a year or two, others are still very much exploratory,” says Friedman. Microsoft is also “conducting global studies” to better understand how work needs are changing during this pandemic, and to help the company design its software accordingly.

Africell Uganda launches Hakuna Matata data bundles that don’t require OTT

Africell Uganda has unveiled another set of amazing bundles dubbed Hakuna Matata designed to keep Ugandans communicating even in the current times where many people are financially strained due to the economic effects of Covid-19.

Africell launched Hakuna Matata Bundles through its social media channels. These bundles are the most competitive on the market in terms of pricing and value.

It should be remembered that the bundles come at a time when a huge section of the population is restless about easing the lockdown due to the financial strain it has caused nationwide.

Derived from the Swahili language the phrase ‘Hakuna Matata’ basically means a state of having ‘No Problems or worries’ which seems to be the intent of the bundles, to ensure that Ugandans worry less when it comes to the cost of calls and internet.

Hakuna Matata bundles offer a buffet of communication solutions that come with unlimited SMS and calls for Africell to Africell customers, free social media or OTT tax worries and data bundles that cost less than any other on the market.

Africell Uganda Chief Commercial Officer Mr. Neeraj Gala, said the Hakuna Matata bundles are timely because they are enabling cost effective communication in the current times where people are financially strained.

“We are keen on connecting communities and nothing speaks to this than the Hakuna Matata bundles we have launched. These are the most affordable combo bundles we have on the market now. For night calling we have a Hakuna Matata bundle priced at Shs250, which allows Africell users to call each other for free from the hours of 10pm right through 6pm,” Mr. Gala said.

With just Shs 2,000 customers will get 500 MB of data and unlimited Minutes and SMS on Africell to Africell valid for a day.

1.5 GB of data and unlimited Minutes and SMS on Africell to Africell valid for a week will go for just UGX 6,000 and for UGX 12,000, customers will get 2GB of data and unlimited Minutes and SMS on Africell to Africell valid for a month.

All these combos come with free Social Media Tax or OTT Tax.

Price point (UGX)DataAfricell MinsAfricell SMSValidityRemarks
2,000500 MBUnlimitedUnlimitedDailyOTT inclusive
6,0001.5 GBUnlimitedUnlimitedWeekly
12,0002 GBUnlimitedUnlimitedMonthly

Robot wraps fibre-optic cables around existing power lines

Facebook engineers have developed a new robot that winds fiber-optic cable around existing medium-voltage (MV) power lines, enabling the cost-effective expansion of high-speed internet infrastructure.

The robot holds specially designed cables within it which are much thinner and lighter than traditional cables. This allows it to lay up to one kilometre of cable by wrapping it around existing MV lines.

It also has an articulated design allowing it to move over insulators and other impediments on the line without human interaction.

The largest costs associated with building new fibre networks lie within the construction of new poles and other infrastructure that can be largely eliminated with the new robot.

As of 2019, over 70 per cent of the world’s population lives more than 10km from a fibre connection, resulting in lower internet speeds and higher latency.

With the demand for data increasing year-on-year in both developing and developed nations, the robot could help to close this gap in a relatively short time frame and at low cost. Facebook believes it could allow fibre to be deployed “within a few hundred metres of much of the world’s population”.

The cable itself proved to be a significant engineering challenge as traditional fibre cables could be subject to degradation phenomena from the MV lines “such as tracking, partial discharge and dry band arcing”, Facebook said. The MV lines can also reach high temperatures that would melt through traditional cables.

To solve these issues the engineers developed a “specially tailored aramid configuration and a high-strength, high-temperature, track-resistant polymer jacket” that will allow the fibre cables to operate in this hostile environment.

The robot used to lay the cable includes a vision system to identify obstacles and appropriately adjust its movements to clear them, while maintaining the clearances required to prevent an electrical hazard.

Facebook believes each robot should be able to lay between 1.5km to 2km of fibre per day, allowing for rapid rollout of high-speed internet infrastructure.

“We expect the total cost – including labour, depreciation and materials – to be between $2 and $3 per metre in developing countries,” the company said in a blog post.

The idea for the project was realised after one of the engineers saw the relative proliferation of MV power lines in Uganda compared to its scant fibre network. Just 28 per cent of people living in Africa are internet users and two-thirds of those are located in South Africa.

Facebook hopes its new robot could help poorer nations and those living in rural areas achieve much greater access to high-speed internet.

itel Mobile launches the itel P36 and P36 Pro LTE in Uganda

itel Mobile, one of the leading budget smartphone brands, has introduced two new additions to its flagship power series; the itel P36 and P36 Pro LTE in Uganda continuing its promise of offering budget-friendly, durable, but reliable smartphones. 

The series advances the legacy of long-lasting battery performance with a 72-hour battery life and internet connectivity upgrades.

Through a detailed understanding of the consumer, the brand has satisfied mobile communication needs and earned significant recognition over the years. In 2019, the International Data Corporation (IDC) ranked itel Mobile as one of the top 4 smartphone players in the Middle East and Africa. It is also the global no. 1 feature phone player according to another 2019 report from the IDC.

Enabled by a 5000mAh battery, the series come with a 5V, 2A, 10W fast charge feature. This means 10 minutes charging gives the user 1 hour for phone calls. To get the series to full charge, it takes just 3 hours and 25 minutes- two times up from the 7 hours, 50 minutes obtainable on the regular 5000mAh battery. And the battery can last 72 hours

The series has an impressive 6.5” HD+ Waterproof Fullscreen display and 8.6mm slim body design set-up. Also, itel P36 and P36 Pro LTE sport dual security – face unlock and a multi-functional fingerprint sensor to protect and guarantee privacy for users. 

“The introduction of itel P36 and P36 Pro LTE affirms itel Mobile’s sustained push towards innovative and stylish smartphone offerings at a budget-friendly price. It’s also about value creation for the consumer with major improvement on features and specifications that surpass what is obtainable in the market. The brand is keen on sustaining this momentum for the ultimate goal of satisfying our consumers.” said Lindah Nakityo Kasasa, itel Digital Marketing & Communications Executive, Uganda.

4G LTE is also here

Sustaining a well-established culture of providing innovative mobile communications offerings to everyone, the itel P36 Pro LTE is fitted with 4G LTE, the first of its kind on the series. It’s a premium offering that delivers superfast internet connection without buffering. It’s 8 times faster than the itel P33 Plus launched last year. This amazing speed ensures fast uploads, downloads, and smooth play of HD videos.  

With itel P36 series, itel sets a new innovation and growth record in her quest to rank among the top-three mobile brands globally.

itel P36 and P36 Pro Specifications

Specificationitel P36itel P36 Pro
Display6.5 HD+ Waterdrop Screen6.5 HD+ Waterdrop Screen
Operating SystemAndroid Pie (Go Edition)Android Pie (Go Edition)
ROM + RAM16GB + 1GB32GB + 2GB
Rear Camera8MP Dual13MP Dual
Front Camera8MP8MP
4G LTENoYes
UnlockingFingerprint + Face UnlockFingerprint + Face Unlock
Battery5000mAh5000mAh

Price & Availability

The itel P36 and P36 Pro LTE will retail for UGX 310,000 and UGX 420,000 respectively and are available starting today, July 13th, 2020 in all itel Mobile branded outlets nationwide. 

How to use Google Assistant to make WhatsApp calls

The Google – WhatsApp integration was announced last year, and it would let you start an audio or video call on the app via Google Assistant. As usual, when Google launches some features they are usually geo-restricted to the USA, but this one is now widely available. It should be noted that the actual commands you need to use to utilize it are a little less than intuitive and quirky.

You need to phrase things just so in order for Google Assistant to understand you actually want to use WhatsApp to make a call, which is mildly annoying. Fortunately, we’ve got a quick and easy guide to get you fluent in Google Assistant speak.

In its announcement, Google said you should ask “Hey Google, WhatsApp video John.” When you try that, Google Assistant decides to play videos on YouTube. Perfect! Instead, you should use these different commands:

  • Video call:
    • Hey Google, make a WhatsApp video call to [contact-name]
    • Hey Google, video call [contact-name] on WhatsApp
  • Audio call:
    • Hey Google, make a WhatsApp call to [contact-name]
    • Hey Google, call [contact-name] on WhatsApp

If you don’t have WhatsApp installed, Google Assistant will ask you to install the app first and if you have people with the same names it will ask you to specify which actual contact you want to reach.

It should be noted that in case you don’t specify “WhatsApp” in your command, Google’s Duo integration takes over and the audio or video call is routed through Duo, so make sure you get the command right.

If you want to make Whatsapp calls in a jiffy, you should add a nickname to your most frequently called contacts. That way Google Assistant won’t be confused if you have two Johns in your address book, or if your husband is called Mary and your mother-in-law Mary.

E-meetings: How can we keep safe with earphones?

By Andrew Masinde

Added 12th July 2020 03:23 PM

One of the new normal activities upon the onset of the pandemic is the emergence of electronic activities, many of them necessitating use of earphones. Andrew Masinde talked to some health experts about how to rightly use earphones or headphones to avoid the associated risks.

HEALTH

Business, education, religion and, practically, any interaction that required many people, have moved to the Internet. And that means they require the use of earphones or headphones. 

Thus, henceforth, earphones are becoming a daily, must-have item, since many people use them for official work, such as conducting online meetings. 

But how safe are the people using earphones and headsets? Are there any dangers associated with excessive use of earphones? 

HEARING LOSS 

Dr Edison Babigamba, an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon and lecturer at Makerere University College of Health Sciences, says the overuse of earphones can cause hearing impairment and many other health hazards. 

“Earphones can produce loud levels of sound. Using them close to the ear for long periods of time is dangerous,” he says. 

While you might not be a distraction to those around you, you certainly are harming yourself unknowingly. 

Research shows that noise levels above 110 decibels strip insulation from nerve fibres carrying signals from the ear to the brain.

“Earphones produce sound waves that cause the eardrum to vibrate. This vibration spreads to the inner ear via the small bones and reaches the cochlear, which is a chamber in the inner ear, filled with a fluid and consists of thousands of small hairs,” he explains.

According to Babigamba, when this vibration reaches the cochlear, the fluid vibrates, making the hairs move. The louder the sound, the stronger the vibrations and the more the hairs move the more likely for them to lose their sensitivity to vibration.

“Sometimes the loud sound also results in the cells bending or folding over, which leads to the sensation of temporary hearing loss. Sometimes, when they recover, they mostly cannot function normally, which may cause permanent hearing loss or deafness,” he adds.

Also, the damage of the hair cells may prevent the brain from receiving the nerve signals properly. Therefore, abnormal nerve signals will be produced to compensate for the missing input by the cochlear hair cells. The result of this electrical noise is known as tinnitus, a condition

which is a perception of a ringing, buzzing or roaring noise in the ear or head.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, around one billion young people across the globe could be at the risk of hearing loss because of the unsafe listening habits they practice through earphones.

Ricky Byaruhanga, an ENT specialist at the International Hospital, Kampala, says the overuse of ill-fitting headsets can also result into pain, which may later be felt in the inner ear.

“This causes soreness in the vicinity of the ear, from the jaws to the top of the head. It also causes barotrauma earaches, a condition that causes a person to feel pain or discomfort in the middle part of their ear, due to pressure changes in the surrounding air or water,” he explains.

He added that the barotrauma earaches occur when one uses headphones with powerful speakers, which put more air pressure on the eardrum. 

Byaruhanga adds that wearing in-ear headphones may also block wax from coming out of the ears, hence leading to a buildup of earwax and, in the long run, leading to health complications.

“Most will find earwax on the earphones after removing them from the ears.

“However, many never bother to clean off the wax. This, in the long run, exposes them to ear infections or conductive hearing loss,” he says.

RISK OF INFECTION

He further explains that pushing earphones into the ear can push wax back into the ear canal, which prevents wax from naturally draining itself from the ear.

Anatomy of the ear

Byaruhanga adds that the dirt and bacteria that these headphones often carry can also cause an infection on their own and, earwax build up, can trap dirt in the ear and block the canal completely.

“Signs of earwax blockage include a feeling of fullness in the ears, feeling dizzy or lightheaded or ringing in the ears, among others,” he said.

Also, as earphones are placed directly into the ear canal, they block the air passage which further increases chances of developing infections.

ACCIDENTS

Byaruhanga says while most people use headphones when walking or jogging on the road and are so engrossed in their private world, they may lose sense of their sorroundings and, may therefore, be prone to accidents. 

Besides accidents, earphones with high levels of sound can also increase psychological stress and anxiety. This can affect a person’s social life, mental health and the ability to perform at optimum levels.

Chronic noise also affects a child’s academic performance in areas such as reading ability, comprehension and memory. 

WHAT CAN BE DONE 

Babigamba advises that the volume of earphones should be kept at least below 60% of the maximum volume. And after every hour, it is advisable to remove headphones for five minutes, to give the ears some rest. 

“Avoid using headphones for 24 hours after exposure to loud music to give the ears a chance to recover,” he advises. 

According to Babigamba, one should avoid using earphones that come in direct contact with the ear canal because they blast the noise directly. 

Instead, he advises that one uses big headsets because they are not fixed inside the ears. Byaruhanga advises that before using the earphones, they should be sanitised to prevent a build-up of bacteria, sweat and shed skin. For earphones with sponge covers, one ought to change them once a month. 

“Sharing earphones with others should be avoided and, if it is inevitable, one should clean them before use,” he advised. 

Byaruhanga adds that when travelling in a noisy transport means or even walking, it is better to avoid the use of earphones because the loud environment can tempt you to raise the volume. He adds that one can also purchase high-quality headphones, as they will block more of the environmental noise, thus allowing the user to reduce the volume. 

BRAIN FUNCTION 

In 2015, 247 scientists from 42 countries sent an appeal to the secretary-general of the United Nations, expressing their concern about the health effects associated with exposure to the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted from wireless devices. Not much research has been done on the safety of long-term radiation exposure from Bluetooth or wireless headphones, according to Joel M. Moskowitz, PhD, the director of the Centre for Family and the Community Health at University of California, Berkeley. 

While you might not be a distraction to those around you, you certainly are harming yourself unknowingly

While currently not much is known about the exact health risks associated with chronic use of in-ear wireless earbuds, scientists are beginning to understand the potential harm they may cause. 

But according to neuroscientists at the University of Texas at Dallas, prolonged exposure to loud noise affects how the brain processes speech, potentially increasing the difficulty in distinguishing speech sounds. 

The research shows that noise levels above 110 decibels strip insulation from nerve fibres carrying signals from the ear to the brain. Loss of the protective coating, called myelin, disrupts electrical nerve signals. 

Also, the use of some earphones can affect the brain because of the electromagnetic waves generated by the headphones. 

These can cause problems for the brain in the long term. Also, since the inner ear has a connection with the brain, any damage or infection, can affect it. 

HOW TO CLEAN EARPHONES 

Ears produce earwax to protect the skin of the human ear canal, assist in cleaning and lubrication and also provide some protection from bacteria, fungi, insects and water. 

When earphones are in your ears, heat is being generated. Heat makes them practically a magnet for earwax. Heat melts the earwax and it re-settles on or in the earphones. 

So even after a couple of uses, you will start to see some sort of residue build-up. To clean earphones, you will need dish soap, cotton, a toothbrush, rubbing alcohol and alcohol wipes. 

Start by gently dry brushing the wax out of the earbud. 

Hold them with the mesh facing down so that any debris can fall down as opposed to back into the earbud. Do not press too hard, you do not want to push the gunk in any further. 

Once that is done, if you still see a waxy build-up, dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol, tap it off and then wipe the bud to remove anything remaining.

Then, take an alcohol wipe and clean the earbud and the surrounding area. This can mildly clean as well as disinfect the earbud. Rubbing alcohol dries lightning-fast and will not seep into the bud. 

Soapy water or cleaning products or perfume, are not suitable cleaning agents for this job, because they will seep in and damage the innards of the earbud. If you have silicone covers, pop them off and soak

Around one billion young people across the globe could be at the risk of hearing loss because of the unsafe listening habits

EARPHONES OR HEADPHONES? ANATOMY OF THE EAR

So, which is better for longterm hearing health: earbuds or headphones?

Both earbuds and headphones present the risk of high decibel levels and long exposure of noise being funnelled into your ears.

However, according to online sources, earbuds are actually more likely to cause damage.

Why? Well, since earbuds sit directly inside your ear and are very close to the ear canal, they actually increase the volume of sound by around nine decibels.

Headphones sit outside the ear, so there is less natural amplification of sound. But it is important to remember; headphones do not save your hearing, lower volume does.

The need for increased digital accessibility during COVID-19 — and beyond

During the global COVID-19 pandemic, the availability of Internet connectivity has helped maintain business continuity, keep children in education, and ensured that people can access essential goods and services online.

But the pandemic has also exposed significant areas of inequality and exclusion in the digital world, particularly for populations at risk. This includes the estimated one billion people worldwide living with some form of disability.

“In today’s fragile world, it is absolutely essential that digital information be distributed and available in formats that are accessible,” said Doreen Bogdan Martin, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “Neglecting this imperative will mean consigning many Persons with Disabilities to a higher risk of contamination and exclusion from essential health and safety information and services and vital social support programs.”

At a recent ITU-D Study Group public webinar on digital accessibility during COVID-19, panelists discussed the importance of ICT accessibility implementation at global level to ensure that everyone’s right to communicate and be part of the digital world is fulfilled – during and beyond the global COVID-19 pandemic. That means, ensuring that digital information is designed and developed considering all users’ needs and/or abilities to perceive it, regardless the ICT used to access it (through, radio, mobile, TV, Websites etc.)Flaws in the system

Panelists agreed that the pandemic has exposed pre-existing and fundamental gaps in accessible communications.

“Most countries, including developed ones – even European ones – were not fully prepared to make sure that everyone has digital access to televised information, sign language and captioning,” said Lidia Best, Chair, National Association of Deafened People (NADP) of the United Kingdom. “Without appropriate accessible futures and services, vital services cannot be seen by all.”

This means that potentially lifesaving health information – such as COVID symptoms or related precautionary measures including the need to wear a mask – may be missed by persons with disabilities who are consequently exposed to  greater risk of contracting the deadly virus.

She advocated that governments should implement ITU-T recommendation F.930, multimedia telecommunication relay services.Creating successful digital accessibility 

But there is some good news. The number of countries committed to digital accessibility is on the rise. According to G3ict data, 59 per cent of countries around the world have a legal definition of accessibility which includes ICTs today, compared to 49 per cent in 2018.

“It shows that what ITU and UNDESA does is having an effect because many more countries are taking steps to undertake regulation,” said Axel Leblois, President and Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs – G3ict.

But although good progress is being made decade-on-decade, “the level of implementation is ridiculously low,” he said. “So this is a real wake-up call because there are lots of commitments, but very little in terms of actual outcomes for Persons with Disabilities.’

He presented a three-point plan to increase digital accessibility in the post COVID-19 era: 1) involve Persons with Disabilities in development, promote and monitor digital accessibility policies and programs; 2) adopt standards for accessibility; and 3) promote understanding of disability and training and certification of accessibility professionals.

“COVID-19 is, in fact, a catalyst for action,” he said.An opportunity to change 

The aim to develop and deploy communications technologies that are ‘born accessible’ is a key tenement of the European Commission’s Accessibility Act.

Public procurement legislation already requires that when public authorities buy video conferencing systems, they are bought accessible, so complying with the accessibility standards and requirements. But the pandemic has highlighted the need to update and revise European accessibility legislation to plug additional gaps.

“We are now starting the preparation of a new disability strategy. The current one is finishing this year, in 2020, and the lessons learned from COVID will be really taken on board,” said Inmaculada Placencia- Porrero, Senior Expert, Disability and Inclusion, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission.Strengthening partnerships 

A multi-stakeholder collaborative effort is needed to ensure that we plug the remaining gaps and “include Persons with Disabilities in the COVID 19 response, recovery and build back better,” said Daniela Bas, Director Division for Inclusive Social Development, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).

And time is of the essence.

“It is crucial to accelerate the implementation of ITU target 2.9 which calls for all Member States to ensure that ICTs are accessible in all countries by 2023. Considering that we are now in 2020, we really don’t have much time,” said Amela Odobasic, Rapporteur of. ITU-D Study Group 1 Question 7/1, who moderated the session.

This was a call echoed by Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau.

“In a world that has never been so dependent on the power of digital technologies, we must redouble our efforts to make sure that all people regardless of their gender, their ability, their age, their location enjoy equal access to digital platforms and services.  And that’s why the work of this Study Group and this particular question is so important,” she said.

4 key takeaways from the new Global E-waste Monitor 2020

Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) such as mobile phones and computers have helped improve lives for billions of people across the world.

But the way we produce, consume and dispose of our EEE has become unsustainable.

The third edition of The Global E-Waste Monitor 2020 launched this week by the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership (GESP), provides comprehensive insight for leaders to address the global e-waste challenge.

The Global E-waste Monitor is a collaborative effort between the Germany-based Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) Programme currently co-hosted by the United Nations University (UNU) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).

The report calls for decision-makers to adopt an internationally recognised methodological framework to measure and monitor e-waste, also commonly known as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Monitoring the quantities and flows of e-waste is important to assess developments over time, and to set and evaluate targets. The report further stimulates the ongoing efforts to tackle the e-waste challenge and drive resource recovery policies and activities towards a sustainable society and circular economy.

The report reveals a 21 per cent increase in the global generation of e-waste since 2014, fuelled by higher EEE consumption rates (growing 3 per cent annually), shorter lifecycles and limited repair options.

Here are some key takeaways from the new report that emphasise why quantifying e-waste should be a priority for countries around the globe.

  • Formal collection and recycling activities are not keeping pace with the global growth of e-waste.

In 2019, only 9.3 Mt (17.4 per cent) of e-waste was officially documented as formally collected and recycled.

There is uncertainty over the fate of the other 44.3 Mt (82.6 per cent) of e-waste generated in 2019, which if dumped, traded or recycled under substandard conditions, will have varying environmental impacts around the world.

In 2018, the highest policy-making body of the ITU, the Plenipotentiary Conference, established a target to increase the global e-waste recycling rate to 30 per cent by 2023. The formal collection and recycling rate would have to increase at a much faster pace in order to hit that target.

The amount of e-waste formally collected and recycled per year increased by 1.8 Mt from 2014 to 2019, while e-waste generated increased by 9.2 Mt over the same time. This suggests that current collection and recycling methods are not keeping pace with global e-waste growth.

  • Increasingly countries are adopting national e-waste policy, legislation or regulation

The number of countries that have adopted a national e-waste policy, legislation or regulation has increased from 61 to 78 between 2014 and 2019. In many regions however, regulatory advances are slow, enforcement is low, and the collection and proper e-waste management is poor.

ITU Member States also set a target to raise the percentage of countries with an e-waste legislation to 50 per cent – or 97 countries – by 2023. ITU provides a programme dedicated to e-waste policy and regulatory development, where Member States can request ITU technical assistance and capacity building support.

It is essential to improve the rate of global e-waste collection and recycling through policy support as continued e-waste growth is expected.

  • E-waste can negatively impact human health and the environment if not managed in an environmentally sound manner

In many countries, infrastructure for e-waste management is not fully established. In other countries, it is completely absent. This often leaves e-waste to be managed by the informal sector.

Toxic and hazardous substances such as mercury, brominated flame-retardants (BFR) or chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) are found in many types of electronic equipment and pose severe risk to human health and the environment if not handled in an environmentally sound manner.

The report highlights that 50 tonnes of mercury and 71 kilo tonnes of BFR plastics are likely to be found in undocumented e-waste flows, which pose harm to workers’ health and the environment if released.

For the first time, the Global E-waste Monitor 2020 considers the global warming effect from the improper management of undocumented waste fridges and air-conditioners as they can contain potent greenhouse gas refrigerants. An estimated 98 Mt of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) is released to the atmosphere in 2019 due to incorrect disposal measures – this is approximately 0.3 per cent of global energy-related emissions in 2019!

  • E-waste provides an opportunity to adopt a circular economy through discarded equipment and high-value materials

Numerous valuable materials such as gold and palladium can be found in e-waste — and if reused and recycled, can promote a circular economy through secondary material use.

A potential raw material value of US$ 57 billion could have been extracted from e-waste generated in 2019, particularly through iron, copper and gold.

The use of recycled iron, aluminium, and copper contributed to a reduction in emissions equivalent to 15 Mt of carbon dioxide in 2019, as compared to their use as virgin raw materials. Going forward, it will be important to reduce virgin material use and increase material recovery in a more circular and sustainable way.

Benin launches a new National Cybersecurity Strategy

By Serge Valery Zongo, Programme Officer, ITU; and Yasmine Idrissi Azzouzi, Junior Officer, ITU

The Government of Benin has adopted a new National Cybersecurity Strategy (NCS) and plan of action for 2020-2022, endorsed by the Council of Ministers on 6 May 2020.

This critical commitment in cybersecurity comes in the context of President Patrice Talon’s government’s efforts to make the national digital transformation a vector of economic and social development of the country, with cybersecurity as an essential element to build trust and foster the secure development of the digital economy.

The main vision of Benin’s new National Cybersecurity Strategy’s is to ensure the creation of reliable and attractive cyberspace for a thriving digital economy. It revolves around five main strategic axes: protection of information systems and critical infrastructure, fight against cybercrime and development of the legal and regulatory framework, development of digital security skills and culture, promotion of digital trust and national coordination and international cooperation.

“I am convinced that the implementation of our digital security strategy will profoundly change the digital sector in Benin by reinforcing security within our digital projects by building even greater digital trust,” says Ms. Aurélie Adam Soulé, Benin’s Minister of Digital and Digitalization. “It will also stimulate the creation of new professions and new employment opportunities. These are a total of forty-seven key actions to be carried out to win the fight for economic development through digital trust and innovation.”

The new strategy was developed with the support of ITU experts, building on ITU’s publication “National Cybersecurity Strategy Guide“, and in consultation with national key stakeholders.