14 January 2013

Ghana: MP Calls for Proper Management of E-Waste

The newly elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Juaben, on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mrs. Ama Pomaa Andoh has called for the establishment of recycling companies to help manage the disposal of electronic waste (e-waste), especially in the rural areas.

The establishment of such firms would go a long way to minimize the high level of youth unemployment in the rural areas. According to her, in her constituency, the people cannot afford new electronic gadgets like televisions, refrigerators, mobile phones, just to mention a few, but rather used products, which in no time become waste.

Hon. Pomaa Andoh was speaking on the floor of the House on Friday, when the Speaker called for statements to be made, which was captured as item 4 on the Order paper of the business statement of the august House.

"In many instances, the only visible part of an electronic product is its outer shell. Unless that case is broken, we rarely see the myriad circuit boards, wires and electronic connections that make the device actually function. But it is those inner mechanical organs that are valuable yet so toxic", she grieved.

She added that the electronic waste gadgets, when not properly disassembled for disposal, leaks and contaminate the environment within the communities. Saying: "overtime, the toxic chemicals of a landfill's e-waste can seep into the ground, possibly entering into water supply or escape into the atmosphere, thereby affecting the health of nearby communities."

Quoting the Global e-Sustainability Initiative and the United Nations University report, she noted that electronic waste amount to 40-50 times the total number of gold in ore mined from the ground.

According to the same report, from the year 2001 to 2011, electronic industries have moved from using 197 to 320 tons of gold in electronic gadgets. "Nevertheless, not more than 15% of the gold in e-waste is being recovered in recycling processes", she lamented.

Hon. Pomaa Andoh added that if and when e- waste is managed properly, metals inside the electronics could be recovered through conventional means and not through illegal mining, popularly known as 'galamsy', which ended up destroying water bodies and other natural resources.

"The necessary attention must therefore be given to the rural youth especially the youth in the Juaben constituency through the creation of jobs through responsible recycling. There is the immediate need for a drastic policy shift and action", she appealed.

The statement was immensely supported by members from both sides of the House as they dubbed it "a very alarming issue".

On his part, MP for Ayawaso North, Dr. Ahmed Mustapha congratulated Hon. Pomaa Andoh for her courage and said such statement could not have been made at a better time.

He hinted that the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry had drafted a budget on e-waste management which is awaiting approval from Parliament.

Dr. Mustapha, who was also the former Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Environment Science and Technology added that "if such a bill is passed into law, it will help to manage waste from electronics such as; mobile phones, tablets and computers, and will further provide job opportunities for the youth" he stated.

The Minister for Trade and Industry, Ms. Hannah Tetteh, who was also present in the House, affirmed the assertion of Dr. Mustapha, saying "this sixth Parliament should know that within the shortest possible time, they will be considering a bill in relation to e-waste. I hope the contribution given to the statement now would be given to the bill when it finally gets to the floor of this House.

The MP for Suhum, Hon. Opare Ansah added that recycling companies would help to provide good job opportunity for the youth. "We need to educate traders and users on the damage of these used electronics" he ascertained.

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