Ghana Gets Support to Recycle E-Waste

On the occasion of the 5th edition of the West African Clean Energy & Environment Exhibition & Conference (WACEE), which took place from 13 to 15 September this year at the Accra International Conference Center in Ghana, there was good news for the recycling sector of the country.

Germany has earmarked 20 million Euro to support Ghana to set up an electronic waste recycling facility, the German Ambassador to Ghana, Christoph Retzlaff, announced at the opening.  With regard to the Government of Ghana on passing the “Hazardous and Electronic Waste Law”, which will translate the relevant Basel convention into national law, he stated that the country would be “the frontrunner in Africa”. In addition, Germany has pledged 5 million Euro on a program focused on improving working conditions for workers dismantling electronic waste and establishing a collection center at Agbogbloshie. The Agbogbloshie scrap metal site in Accra is Ghana’s largest center for electronic waste (e-waste) recycling and disposal.

In 2010, Blacksmith Institute (now Pure Earth, an US-based international NGO), in partnership with GreenAd Ghana, the Ghana Health Service, and the City University of New York School of Public Health conducted an assessment of the occupational and environmental exposures of electronic waste recyclers at Agbogbloshie Market. According to Pure Earth, the research produced comprehensive documentation that e-waste processing, especially the burning of copper wires, exposes workers, local residents and family members to hazardous levels of heavy trace elements. In January 2014 began a pilot project started by setting up a basic e-waste recycling facility that would enable recyclers to stop burning wire and instead strip it in a way that was efficient and profitable. During stage 2 of the project, from October 2014 to June 30, 2015, further machines were purchased and more workers were trained. The project has been extended into 2016.

Photo: O. Kürth