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Uncontrollable Export of Electronic Waste into Ghana

Ghana is being subjected to an “uncontrollable” flow of electronic waste including used electronic goods such as old cell phones. A new report from makeITfair, an electronics industry project spanning Europe with the aim of informing the young about such things as human rights and environmental and social issues, says that as many as 600 containers of used electronics arrive in the country every month, where the large proportion of scrap workers are made up of children.

The top exporters of the electronic waste to Ghana have been identified as being Belgium, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. The report claims that Ghana has no formal system in order to be able to identify whether those electronics that are arriving in the country are already obsolete, nor does it have an infrastructure that is adequate for dealing with the hazardous nature of electronic waste.

“For a small part of the population, the import of used electronics is a lucrative business, but for a majority of people involved in the industry, it is a matter of survival,” the report states.

Thousands of people go to work in Ghana’s informal waste industry every day, with children making up around 40 percent of the scrap workers at the dumpsite at Agbogbloshie. Workers frequently suffer from cuts, burns, coughs, rashes, headaches and upper respiratory problems.