E-waste in Ghana.
Ghana which has been viewed as one of Africa’s most stable democracies, has recently been getting bad press as the dumping ground for electronics waste. According to Greenpeace, “The latest place where we have discovered high tech toxic trash causing horrendous pollution in Ghana. Our analysis of samples taken from two electronic waste (e-waste) scrap yards in Ghana has revealed severe contamination with hazardous chemicals.”
There is an international treaty that was designed to make the transfer of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries illegal. This treaty, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal was also intended to ensure environmentally sound management of toxic wastes. In spite of the lofty goals of the convention, corrupt traders whose only motive is profit by any means, even if it means death to the young boys who breath the toxic fumes in Agbogbloshie market in Accra, Ghana. By the way, the United States has not ratified the Basel convention. For a seemingly environmentally conscious president like Barak Obama, it should be a priority to ratify the convention. Can the U.S. ratify the Basel convention? Yes, it can.
Realizing that Obama’s trip to Ghana was more symbolic than substantive, it is understandable that there was not enough time ( less than 24 hours) for President John Atta mills to have raised all the issues of concern to Ghana. Yet, during the bilateral meeting and breakfast with President Obama, was e-waste dumping in Ghana by western nations including the U.S. discussed as an issue? If not, the leadership in Ghana has lost a historical opportunity to show the leader of the most powerful country on earth, how the west is again committing a crime on Africa. Had President Obama seen the e-waste dump in Accra, Ghana, I am sure he would have been emotionally affected as he was during his visit to Cape Coast Castle.
Dumping of toxic waste within the environs of Agbogbloshie, a suburb of Accra, has attracted international concern, as it should. The challenge is for the leadership in Ghana to be able to respond to this environmental menace.
In his speech in Ghana, President Obama said, “Africa’s future is up to Africans,” he also said, “Development depends upon good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long,” “That is the change that can unlock Africa’s potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans.” Very true.
In order for Africans to “unlock Africa’s potential”, the U.S. and other Western nations would have to stop being part of all interferences that actually hinder the progress of Africa.
Professor Mekonen Haddis