Where does the electronic waste generated by the first world countries end up? Ghana, and exports to third world countries such as China, Nigeria, India, Vietnam and Pakistan. But most are sent to Ghana. With millions of tons of waste being exported each year, Ghana’s illicit e – waste trade is shaping up an economy of its own.
The Agbogbloshi Dump in Accra, Ghana is the largest electronic wasteland in West Africa. The locals call it Sodom and Gomorrah. About 3,000 people work in Accra, removing waste from electronic equipment and making a living. Older TVs, computer monitors, hard drives, and keyboards are being phased out for reusable parts, such as lenses from disk drives and circuit boards, and metals are in high demand as global scrap prices soar. Burning wires and printed boards to extract copper and other precious metals.
But the process of recovering useful metals is extremely toxic. High levels of toxic chemicals such as lead, cadmium and mercury are released into the atmosphere.
Workers who remove metals often lack protective equipment and breathe
Thousands of women there cook on printed circuit boards. Lead and tin are heated and breathed. Atmospheric toxic concentrations in Ghana are up to 100 times higher than normal. That is why visitors experience headaches as soon as they enter the place.