Monkey Zoo Matrix Math: 2010 Okopol Study Crowned Oracle of E-waste

I have been trying to find a way to address last weeks UNEP Report... It's extremely frustrating because the report says next to nothing.   It's full of qualifiers and half statements and CYA.  So frustrating to see the headlines reporting that UN says 90% is dumped, when the actual report "says" next to nothing.  It implies, it insinuates, it uses racist photographs to depict Africa's tech sector.  But it says nothing.
Terrablight relies on Okopol's Oracle

But here's the nutshell.  It claims "e-waste" trade is worth $19 billion dollars.  And the way it comes up with that number is by capturing the legal and legitimate reuse and repair trade in its "waste" numbers.   It blames Africa's Tech Sector by shaming Africans who work in recycling.

So really, it is more useful to go to another 100+ page report written by some of the same actors, back in 2010.  A report which actually DID present numbers, and drew conclusions.

The 2010 Okopol Report.  
An apparent number crunching, quantifying treatise.   Which repeatedly cites Mike Anane, the "reporter" in Ghana, and surrounds his quotes with numbers that completely contradict Mr. Anane in every single case, leaving him without a single factually correct quote... but fails to throw the bum out.  Instead, it granted Mr. Anane a cloak of vettedness.   It made him the Oracle of the E-Waste Matrix.

The year Joe Benson was accused in the Independent, Guardian, BBC, and Daily Mail of exporting waste electronics from Europe and dumping them in Nigeria and Ghana, the following study had just come out... Mr. Anane was interviewed on BBC Panorama, showing "lead dust" (aluminum phosphor) inside the broken panel of a CRT.  Next Month, Interpol has invited Mike Anane (and paid his consulting fee) to address a roomful of Interpol Enforcement Staff, telling them about the E-Waste Matrix, where 75%-90% of goods Africans test and pay for are bad.  Even when most random tests in Germany find that more than that is good, Anane will tell them that somehow the African businesses, like Joe Benson's, are able to sense and pick out the bad ones to export.

Here are key sections of the 2010 Report which
A) Grant Credibility to Mike Anane, and
B) Prove His Claims to be Completely False.

| TEXTE | 22/2010 ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH OF THE FEDERAL MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT, NATURE CONSERVATION AND NUCLEAR SAFETY Project No. (FKZ) 3708 93 300 Report No. (UBA-FB) 001331/E Transboundary shipment of wasteelectrical and electronic equipment /electronic scrap – Optimization ofmaterial flows and control by Knut Sander Stephanie Schilling ├ľkopol GmbH, Hamburg On behalf of the Federal Environment Agency (Germany)
"(Abstract)  In the countries of destination, the equipment encounters recovery and disposal structures, which are not suitable to ensure the protection of human health and the environment as well as the extensive recovery of resources."
This chestnut of a research paper tried to explain the "e-waste crime" and incentives of African "waste tourists" to export loads of WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment).  In the Abstract, the authors don't even feel a need to cite the percentage of used electronics which are "bad", it's apparently taken for granted.


First, you forget that it's Africans buying and shipping the "waste".




Why?  Here is the how the "waste crime" works, according to Okopol's Oracle.

First, Nigeria
According to [Oboro pers.com.], about 500 containers with electrical and electronic equipment reach Nigeria every month. He estimates that approximately 400,000 used computers are imported every month. Of these, only about 25 % to 75 % are functional [Osibanjo, Oboro pers.com, BAN 2005]. About 45 % of the equipment comes from Europe and the USA each and 10 % from Asia. About 95 % of the computers imported into Nigeria are used [Osibanjo 2009]. 
Ok, so there is the "25% to 75% bad" figure.   They all come from BAN.

Research was conducted February and March 2009 on the prices of used equipment and components on the markets in Lagos, Nigeria. Since there is a relatively broad range of qualities available, a distinction was made between equipment in good quality and equipment of low quality... 
In the low-qualities group, the average price for PCs was € 30 and for CRT monitors was € 10. CRT televisions cost € 15 on average and refrigerators (medium size) € 35. 
Imported non-functional equipment is also sold at the markets. The prices, however, vary more greatly between vendors and buyers than those for functional equipment. In one case, nonfunctional CRT monitors were reported to be priced between 1 €/piece and 3 €/piece. 
So, non-functional CRT equipment (possibly repairable) sells for 1-3 Euros each.

Now, in the section on Ghana, the report is more specific
The centre for handling electrical and electronic equipment in Ghana is the Agbogbloshie Market in the capital Accra, at which many little workshops for dismantling UEEE exist [Greenpeace 2008]. More workshops are scattered throughout the entire country [Greenpeace 2008]. About 300 containers of UEEE/WEEE reach Ghana every month, according to [Anane pers.com.], and the trend is increasing. Primarily computers, televisions and monitors are imported into Ghana through the ports of Tema. These pieces of equipment often still bear stickers from the original owners. Most European equipment comes from Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Some of the equipment from the Netherlands is purchased by civic amenity centres. About 75 % to 80 % of the imported UEEE/WEEE cannot be reused. The transport appears not to be the cause of the faultiness of the equipment, since the traces on the casing resemble signs of wear from normal use more than damage in transit [Anane pers.com.]. 
The report says how many CRTs on average fit in a container, and they must be using 17" monitors because they estimate (below) 900.   You cannot get 900 19" or 27" or 32" TVs in a sea container.   But that's fine.
With the estimation of transport costs it is assumed here for reasons of simplification that only one type of appliance is transported in the container. On average with space-efficient stowage approximately 900 CRT monitors, 2,000 PCs, 100 refrigerators or 2,800 CD/DVD players can be packed into a container. 
Table 26 below shows the market prices in Nigeria for selected appliances of a low or very low quality (utilisation profiles D2 to G) against the calculated logistics costs. 
With a range of appliances such as CRT it also has to be considered when looking at economic factors that the treatment of a CRT monitor in Germany costs between € 3 and € 4 and these costs are saved by exporting them. This represents an additional economic driver for low-quality appliances. As the demand for CRT monitors has fallen dramatically in Germany and there are a lot of CRTs waiting for treatment after being replaced by flat screens, the price for used appliances is currently very low (including used appliances which still work). With other appliances, fluctuating raw materials prices mean that sometimes profits can be achieved from treatment in Germany, and sometimes not. 

Nine hundred times 75% bad = 675 bad (non-repairable) and 225 good (high or low quality).  Based on the math in the study, the bad ones are worth 1-3 Euros.  Let's say 3 but use dollars... 675 x $3 = $2,025 at the market (this is after the container has paid customs fees and moved out and all the workers have been paid to empty the container.

The last section implies that the Africans somehow benefit from Germany's "avoided disposal cost". Despite having PAID for the units.
If, for example, half of the treatment costs saved with CRT monitors are passed on to the exporters, after transport costs have been deducted this would leave a profit of € 0.50 to € 1 per non-working appliance. - page 82 
But there is no evidence, ever, that this has ever happened.  It is ludicrous.  And it certainly did not happen in Joe Benson's case... he PAID the UK recyclers for the items... and repeatedly, Interpol and UNEP acknowledge the payment comes from the South, and actually implies it means "waste" is "profit".

If the cost of buying the units in Germany and shipping them to Ghana is $5,000 (and we believe it's closer to $10,000), then there remains $2,975 loss to be covered by the good 225 CRT monitors.  That's $13.22 to break even.  That doesn't pay for "waste tourist" hotels and flights, and doesn't leave any payment for the German or EU collector.   And if the price of good CRT monitors is only 10 Euro at retail, there's still a $3.22 loss.  And there is no way we see the "avoided disposal cost" flowing into African hands.

So maybe it was only 25% waste, BAN's lower estimate?  That would mean The Oracle, Mike Anane, is wrong threefold.  And it would mean roughly 3 times the waste as 91% reuse, the determination in the Nigeria E-Waste Assessment study.

(675 good x 10 Euros) + (225 bad x $2) = $7,200.   If shipping the container costs $5000, that leaves $2,200 to pay for the flight and pay for people to unload the container, and to pay the European collector.
Mike Anane Reports


But Joe Benson's court trial documents showed he PAID the collectors up to $10 per item.  He didn't get any "avoided disposal" rebate, either.  We can assume he paid less for small CRT monitors.  There is certainly no evidence that he charged for them.  I've seen prices on Alibaba for $3, so let's assume he paid that.  900 x $3 = $2,700.  Darn, there goes the $2,200 profit, we are back to -$500 loss.

And remember... if they are televisions instead of monitors, it's only 400 per container.

Now, if the Nigeria E-Waste Assessment is correct, and 91% of the containerload gets reused, the math starts to work a little better.

900 x 91% = 819 good x $10 = $8,190 
 + (81 not good x $2 = 162) equals $8.352

So despite all the hard sourced numbers, the Okopol European study allows the Oracle Anane to explain it this way.   "75%-80% of the CRTs are bad."  The poor Ghana businesspeople must pay at the port without any opportunity to test the equipment.  And there are "apparently" cases where the sea container is transported directly to Agbogbloshie for dumping.
"The centre for handling electrical and electronic equipment in Ghana is the Agbogbloshie Market in the capital Accra, at which many little workshops for dismantling UEEE exist [Greenpeace 2008]. More workshops are scattered throughout the entire country [Greenpeace 2008]. 
"About 300 containers of UEEE/WEEE reach Ghana every month, according to [Anane pers.com.], and the trend is increasing. Primarily computers, televisions and monitors are imported into Ghana through the ports of Tema. These pieces of equipment often still bear stickers from the original owners. Most European equipment comes from Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Some of the equipment from the Netherlands is purchased by civic amenity centres. About 75 % to 80 % of the imported UEEE/WEEE cannot be reused. The transport appears not to be the cause of the faultiness of the equipment, since the traces on the casing resemble signs of wear from normal use more than damage in transit [Anane pers.com.]. 
"The Ghanaian must pay for the containers in the port upon arrival of the containers, and generally have no opportunity to test the goods. There are apparently also cases in which containers are directly taken for dumping. At markets such as that of Agbogbloshie, the valuable materials such as aluminium and copper are manually separated from the worthless materials such as plastic. [Anane pers.com.] explains that this manual dismantling also involves breaking open the cases and burning off the plastic sheathing of copper cables. " 
The cost of moving a container out of Tema Port involves hiring a truck driver, who we can suppose charges at least $200 to bring the container to Agbogbloshie and wait for an hour for the 30 people to empty the container... people who must pay for the scrap.

So the boring math in the report all lines up perfectly with the E-Waste Assessment Reports, and all demands that Mike Anane explain his statistics, and show his sources.  In Ghana last month, he refused.  We provided data to the Italian data journalists to ask during their interview with Anane, and Anane (who charged them for the interview) refused, simply refused, to give a single example of a single source of his "data".

Interpol is now paying the Oracle to tell enforcement agents how they can arrest and imprison more Joe Bensons.   It's easier to listen to Anane than to read Okopol's numbers.



@DavidHiggins at Interpol, do you not realize how preposterous this Africa E-Waste Matrix is?

See 2013 April 1 Blog, Africa's E-waste Matrix, and then re-read the Okopol Report.

I'm coming out with our own report in another week or so, but for now, I just wanted to show that longest and most detailed the European report explaining the case against Joe Benson cites Mike Anane and BAN as their source (or publications that cite them), and then lays out all the math which shows BAN and Anane's claims are economically impossible.

Section 2.3 German Waste Shipment Law acknowledges, somewhat, that the burden of proof lies with the inspection authority.
In the case of a suspected violation against the provisions of Regulation 1013/2006 or AbfVerbrG, or an illegal waste shipment (1)31, the inspection authority may seize or impound the shipment and packaging (2). If there is only initial suspicion, then the inspection authority must gather information in order to clarify the situation (3). This can also be done together with the responsible authorities at the shipping and/or inspection location. In the case of shipments out of Germany, the inspection authority must inform the authority at the shipping/inspection location of their measures (4a and 5). The responsible state authority must decide upon the validity of the suspicion in accordance with Art. 11 par. 4 of AbfVerbrG (4b). 


The proof of Nigerian Joe Benson's innocence, and Ghanain Mike Anane's guilt, is in the report, if anyone actually reads it instead of pretends to read it.   I challenge Interpol to read this report, and my analysis, and find any evidence supporting its decision to pay Mike Anane for his Oracle services.

I'm out of time.  But take a look at the calculations at the end of the report.  This math also exonerates Joe Benson, and unveils Ghana's E-waste Oracle.  Multiply these numbers by the scrap value, and by the reuse value, and ask yourself, how would Africans pay reuse prices and then wind up with Africa scrap value?  It means that the Oracle is saying Africans are pretty damn stupid.  Maybe that's why the Geeks of Africa say what they say in my video about Mr. Mike Anane.





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