Increased domestic consumption of goods is the main source of e-waste in Africa

Increased domestic consumption of goods is the main source of e-waste in Africa to save the planet

The use of electronic media in most African countries is low compared with other regions of the world, but it is growing with remarkable speed. Use of personal computers has increased tenfold, and the number of mobile subscribers — a hundred times.

In the five countries studied (Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria) is released annually from 650,000 to 1 million tons of e-waste to be treated in order to protect public health and the environment in the region. Many devices contain hazardous substances such as mercury, lead, and substances that destroy the human endocrine system, as brominated flame elements.

When burning cables outdoors emit dioxin, a persistent pollutant that can bioaccumulate in organisms. Garbage collectors and neighboring communities are particularly at risk to their health. Another problem is the use of child labor to collect scrap, dismantling and sorting materials. Among the important materials and metals are indium, palladium, gold, silver and copper, which can be recovered and re-used as a secondary raw material.

Although the informal sector recycling serves mostly immigrants, which include contempt, recovery of materials is seen as a good opportunity to develop a semi-sphere of labor. In Ghana and Nigeria, this area provides an income of more than 30 thousand people.

A team of European experts together with local representatives examined the socio-economic characteristics of the sector of e-waste in West Africa to develop national strategies for the treatment of strategic materials. The analysis yielded the following data:

  • major exporter of new and used electronic equipment in Africa is the United Kingdom, and are considered to be major importers in Nigeria and Ghana;
  • year to at least 250,000 tonnes of e-waste comes in five of these countries illegally, accounting for 5% of all electronic waste in Europe;
  • more than 70% of electronic equipment imported into Ghana, is second-hand. 30% of them non-functional, accounting for 40,000 tons of waste.

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