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E-waste provides job “lifeline” in Africa

E-waste provides job “lifeline” in Africa

September 2, 2013

ewaste webArticle argues the influx of used electronics in Africa can create much-needed job opportunities.

Biztech Africa reports that while the importation of e-waste to developing nations is often seen as an “ill-conceived” idea due to the health and environmental hazards it can present, in Africa such material can act as a “lifeline” for millions of unemployed people as it “provides jobs and a solid source of revenue for people to put food on the table and send kids to school”.

Each year, millions of tons of e-waste from developed nations is sent to developing nations for recycling or disposal in landfills due to the cost of disposing of such waste properly, with The Recycler recently reporting on the health and environmental hazards e-waste is having in Pakistan.

According to the article, West Africa is seen by many as an “e-waste paradise”, with old electronic equipment being sold in make-shift shops or on the streets and some shops also acting as “workshops” to repair and resell broken equipment. The article adds that women and children are also employed to help in the shops or on stands “to push the family business forward”.

Gregoire Kodjo Akpovi, who has been involved in the e-waste industry in Africa for over a decade, said:  “I want to know why they call it e-waste because nothing is being wasted here. This is real stuff that is helping many people like me to make a real living.

“Why would somebody want to ban e-waste while there is so much poverty in Africa? This old electronic equipment the rich countries are sending us is like manna from the sky.”

His sibling, Issaka Kabore, an e-waste picker, added: “I agree with my brother that this is not a waste because the moment they throw away parts of or entire equipment, we pick them up and go to resell them somewhere else to people who badly these parts to fix or assemble a computer or a TV. You see, it is an unending cycle of what you call e-waste.”

However, Jean-Paul Koffi Kouadio, an environmentalist, said that agreeing to accept e-waste from developed countries “was like signing a pact with the devil because that deal cast a spell on Africa and sealed the fate of its environment”.

He added: “What I hate about this kind of equipment is that it has almost reached its lifespan, and it is only a matter of months before one sees them becoming toys for kids playing out there.”

Biztechafrica also claims that an investigation in West Africa found that large amounts of e-waste are able to be transported between countries “under the nose of customs and immigration agents, who do not bother to search vehicles as long as gifts and some cash change hands”.

Categories : City News

Tags : Africa E-waste Environment

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