Gaming firm Betin last Friday announced that it would close down 500 retail outlets, rendering another 2,500 Kenyans jobless.
The firm said in a statement that the government’s hard stance left it with no option but to issue its staff with redundancy notices.
They will join more than 2,000 others who have lost their jobs since July in a wave of layoffs by companies seeking to remain afloat.
The news has created fear among workers in the formal and informal sectors.
Things are unlikely to get better after the government announced that it will ban imports of second-hand electronic gadgets from January next year.
Mr Ayub Macharia, the director of environmental education in the Ministry of Environment, said Kenya has been used as a dumping ground for electronic waste from developed countries.
“We are putting in place strict regulations to deter imports of obsolete electronics and the move to ban imports of old electronic gadgets will be contained in the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations,” he said.
The move will make importers and sellers of electronic gadgets, including television sets, radios and mobile phones, responsible for disposing of them when they can no longer be used.
“The sellers of the non-biodegradable equipment will have to adhere to a deposit return scheme,” he said.
This means that a certain fee will be added on top of the gadget price, which buyers will either get back when they return the product or top up to get a new product.
Mr Macharia added that the regulations will be in full force by March 2020.
He accused government offices and parastatals of holding the largest consignment of electronic waste (e-waste) in the form of television sets, fridges and electric cables.
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Centre (WEEE) General Manager Boniface Mbithi said Kenya generates over 44,000 tonnes of e-waste every year.
The gadgets end up polluting the environment as they are not properly disposed of.
“The e-waste is more because we do not have a framework to capture the data. Our institution only collects 25 tonnes monthly, though we have a capacity of 100 tonnes,” he said.
Among the firms legally licensed to recycle e-waste are Simonet Kenya, EWIK, Sintmund and WEEE, while Safaricom and the Communication Authority of Kenya serve as collection centres.