Nyeri duo finds gold in heaps of Sh1,000 electronic waste

Mr Samuel Waithuki, Edward’s business partner, displays a reading lamp made from an old adapter. PHOTO | joseph kanyi
Mr Samuel Waithuki, Edward’s business partner, displays a reading lamp made from an old adapter. PHOTO | joseph kanyi 

Edward Waithaka rummages through heaps of garbage in a dumpsite searching for electrical devices one might find useless.

But for one and half years, the 35-year-old has been doing the same thing focused on landing reusable devices.

The Moi University electrical engineering graduate drew his inspiration from a long search of a white-collar job that did not bear fruit.

From his small shop in Tetu Constituency, Nyeri County, he has made his name as the go-to-guy as people try to make an extra coin through selling old electronics. He buys the electronic waste at Sh1,000 and below.

He buys old phone chargers, electrical conduits, multi-plugs, old hard disks, remotes, television, fridges, radios and DVD players among others.
“It is a business like any other with profits as I top up as an ICT tutor at a local school,” he said.

Mr Waithaka and his partner Samuel Waithuki, who is in charge of production and development, specialise in security alarm systems and LED lights.

The duo is currently working on video alarm stream system that can send live footage to home and business owners regardless of the distance.

“The video alarm system will detect intruders and the alarm goes off, texts you, and is able to capture videos at the scene and automatically send them to your e-mail while it backs others on the drop box. The gadget will stream the video live,” explained Mr Waithaka.

What is already installed to business people within Nyeri is an intruder alarm system that pretty much does what the video alarm system does, but it sends still photos. The alarm systems sell for between Sh3,000 and Sh50,000, especially for the video stream system.

“We have an advantage against the imports because ours are long lasting and cost-effective,” said Mr Waithaka.

They install the gadgets in chicken pens, parking lots and stalls for second-hand clothes across Nyeri.

“Our LED lamps can save up to 12 hours compared to the normal incandescent bulb,” Mr Waithaka said, adding that the lamps sell at Sh1,000 and are held by hand.

They have developed a wireless electricity tester that detects continuity of electricity cables buried in concrete walls. “It works by lighting. Whenever there is power in the cables, it glows after detecting the electricity waves within the cables, but when the tester fails to produce light it means there could be a fault somewhere,” said Mr Waithaka.

The testers sell for between Sh300 and Sh500.

They market their products and services through social media.

“We are selling our work through social media but our work sometimes is given a wide berth by people who do not understand what we do,” he said.

While marketing their work on social media, Mr Waithaka has asked the youth not to sit at home waiting for white-collar jobs.

“When we look around us, there is too much we can do using readily available materials,” said Mr Waithaka.

The UN estimates that Kenya generates e-waste of about 17,350 tonnes per year. Approximately, the country disposes of 11,400 tonnes of old refrigerators, 2, 800 tonnes of TVs, 2,500 tonnes of personal computers, 500 tonnes of printers and 150 tonnes of mobile phones every year.