Fair Trade Recycling invited to present at IERC Conference in Salzburg, Austria

"Writing export rules for used electronics without consulting Africa's Tech Sector is like writing health rules without ever talking to a doctor." - Emmanuel Nyaletey, 2018 IERC Congress

One week ago, one of Fair Trade Recycling's representatives and board member, Emmanuel Nyaletey, presented on a panel to address European Union representatives on their e-waste export policies, especially the ones directed at Africa.

Emmanuel showed some of the photos of children posed on electronic junk at the City of Accra's scrap metal yard and dumpsite, Agbobloshie.  He noted some of the "ghoulish" adjectives used to describe the scrapyard, and then he gave the Europeans a history lesson.

The first major hydroelectric dam was begun shortly after Ghana's independence in 1958, and was completed by 1965. Within ten years, all the electricity was consumed and brownouts, blackouts and rationing began.  Four more hydroelectric dams would be constructed through the 1990s, and the charts showed that each provided the shortfall for a few years, and then the brownouts, blackouts, and rationing began.  He provided data on the number of TV stations, radio stations, cell phone towers, etc. which were also erected during the past 6 decades of independence.

Over the course of 60 years, the history of electricity consumption in Accra should indicate one thing.  Between 1958 and 2018, Ghana households used a hell of a lot of electricity.

Emmanuel explained that devices are most frequently imported used from Europe, Australia, Japan, China or the USA, but that they are kept in use, repaired again and again, and re-sold in third hand markets before they wind up sold for scrap and carted to Agbogbloshie.

Emmanuel recommended a simple alternative to arresting technicians like Joe Benson and intimidating electronics recycling companies from welcoming and selling to Africa's Tech Sector.

Even if the goods at Agbogbloshie were imported 20 years ago, and reused for a long time, Africa's Tech Sector concedes they are being managed at least as poorly as they were managed in the UE and USA decades ago.  So he proposed that the Tech Sector organize a take-back or trade in program, and recycle or ship back for recycling, ton-for-ton, as much junk as reuse items it imports.

We even went back to Agbogbloshie again, and can hire Awal, Razaq and Yaro for the loading job.

The WR3A "E-Waste Offset" program was previously announced on this blog and in several trade journals, but Emmanuel, Wahab and I are now on the ground in Ghana enlisting Tech Sector entrepreneurs and cueing up our first "offset" export of junk CRT televisions.

Europe can stop fretting about losing "strategic metals" (like, um, strategic gold and copper) through extended product reuse in Africa.  There's plenty of junk here.  Buying Europe's used computers for 10 times the scrap price will pay for offset or trading of the same quantity of household and commercial appliances from Accra, Kumasi, Tamale, Tema, Yendi, CapeCoast, etc.

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