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Ghana to West: Africa no dumping site for used computers

by Staff Writers
Accra (AFP) Aug 21, 2008
Africa is worried by the large-scale importation of used computers from the West that poses an environmental hazard to the impoverished continent, a Ghanaian minister said Thursday.

"The unprecedented importation of old computers into Africa from developed countries to satisfy information technology need has resulted in electronic waste that adds to environmental pollution," Environment Minister Kwadwo Adjei-Darko said.

"I appeal on developed countries not to use Africa as a dumping site for computers," Darko told representatives from 150 countries attending a week-long United Nations conference on climate change.

Children scavenging rubbish dumps for old computer parts are a common sight in Africa. The activity exposes them to dangerous minerals such as lead, cadmium and toxic fumes emitted from dump sites, experts say.

"This is the situation in most African cities where 'computer villages' for selling old imported computers, especially laptops, are springing up," said Christian Teriete of the international NGO World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The dumping of used equipment does not end with computers only, but extends to cars, refrigerators, televisions and other electronic devices which African governments should also oppose, activists say.

"A lot of used cars imported mostly from Europe ply the streets of Accra, emitting high levels of smoke," WWF's Teriete added.

But Ben Abedi, an Accra taxi driver expressed misgivings on the workability of any plans to effect a ban.

"The (Ghanaian) government banned the importation of used cars of more than 10 years and placed high import duties on them, but such cars are all over the country. Nothing has changed," Abedi said.

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