Editors Note: Status of WR3A Good Point Blog

Blog Status December 6, 2016.

Wahab, left, points to photo in Washington Post of Idrissa, who was struck and killed by a truck in 2013 or 14
Catching up on editing 4 blog articles (from "Collateral Damage" series) and one magazine article, and preparing for my presentation at ICM in Salzburg, Austria.  Also getting all my vaccinations for the re-visit to Ghana.   I'm double checking things from the draft Fair Trade Recycling report (2015 visit).

1- Does something bad happen  at Agbogbloshie?  Bad for health, for the environment, etc.?

2- If something bad happens, is it related to unfair export and import trade?

3- If something bad happens, due to unfair trade, is it illegal or a "loophole"?

4- If something bad happens, due to unfair trade, and it is illegal, should Joe "Hurricane" Benson and other Tech Sector African businesspeople pay fines or go to prison for it?

The answer to the first question is yes and no.  Or rather, some bad things happen, and some good things (better than if the goods were in the USA or EU) happen.  The worst thing is probably the men who burn wire and then use their bare hands to scrape metal out of the dirt and ashes.  The earth there will be contaminated by lead.  Some of the lead is from automobiles, some from leaded casings in older electric wire (not computers).  If they aren't washing their hands really well, they are likely to suffer consequences.

The good thing is that the goods are used for far longer than westerners use the goods.  Even after westerners have finihsed using the electronics, Africans will tend to reuse them twice as long as that. And hand disassembly is better for the environment than shredding.  And the cost of achieving internet, phone, TV, radio and other teledensity measures, per African is a TINY FRACTION of the upstream environmental cost per capita done by Western countries.  And most of THAT damage, from mining, occurs in places like Africa.

2 - No.  The junk in Agbogbloshie is far more likely to be collected from African city residents and businesses after 10-20 years of use than it is to be imported. The people saying that it came from sea containers being dumped to avoid recycling costs are making it up at best, and in some cases lying.

3. Not under Basel Convention Annex IX.  But - in reaction (over-reaction) to lies about #2, some EU countries have passed stricter laws.  It's like if you thought bananas were poison, and passed a law against selling bananas... yeah, banana sellers would be criminals.  But seriously.

4. No. This was a witch hunt.

WR3A members want nothing short of an admission that 80% export crime statistics were wrong and that the press who were told about Agbogbloshie being "the biggest e-waste dump on earth" were lied to.  And no, it's not going away.  Do I look like I'm going away?

It's not every life we lead where we get a chance to play John Brown, to play Atticus Finch, to stand up for innocent geeks of color.  I may be crazy.  But it's a good crazy, I'm proud to be this crazy.

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