Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Africa , Environment

Toxic PCs

The West has been using Africa to dump it’s toxic waste and unwantables for years and continues despite being illegal since 1992. In 1998 the EU implemented a ban against exportation of hazardous waste the West. [the USA, Canada and New Zealand refused to sign]. Just after the Tsunami of December 2004, barrels of medical and chemical waste left on the shores of Somalia were broken open and the contents spilled. Some of the waste had been there since the early 80s when warlords received large payments from the West to dump the waste mainly from Switzerland and Italy. In the late 80s large amounts of toxic waste from Italy were found in Koko Beach, Delta State Nigeria resulting in burns, vomiting blood and partial paralysis by those who came into contact with the waste. In 2006 a Dutch ship dumped tons of caustic washings used to clean oil drums on Abidjan leaving people complaining of nausea, headaches and vomiting.

The dumping of toxic waste has been replaced by dumping of electronic waste, computers mobile phones which contain “cadmium, lead, mercury and other poisons”. In 2006 the Independent reported

Two years later the dumping continues. The figures are astounding. Each year the EU produces 8.7 million tons of E-waste of which 6.6 million tons leaves Europe each year – where does it go? Mainly to Africa and often under the guise of “charitable donantions” where it is left in landfills and ponds and where much of it is burnt sending out huge quantities of lead and mercury which then enter the food chain. The dumps become “working” areas for poor people mainly children searching for scraps of metal and other bits they can sell. Every month about 500,000 used computers are arriving in Lagos alone with only a small percentage working and the rest end up as toxic waste. NGOs, businesses, unscrupulous local businessmen but most of all the EU are all complicit in the trade of electronic waste arriving in West Africa from Europe as this video shows.


  1. This is a story that keeps coming back since there are no sustained nor on-going campaigns about the problem. Children are dying to clear up the developed world’s discarded computers disguised as aid by charity organisations fronting the rubbish. Over 75% of donated computers are e-waste. Who is responsible? Bono & Bob & Bill?

    We can only create awareness and, it is a campaign worth wining for the poor that live on or near the dump sites. They do not have a clue about how they are being killed slowly. The type of cancers and illnesses not seen anywhere else fester in African communities where people just accept these types of aid. Coupled with the effort of the scrupulous lot that seem to only think of business as a profit making machine. The environmental consequences are not taken into consideration and they unwittingly kill off their customers.

    Again, does Africa need charity? These are debates worth taken to the UN by concerned citizens since the elected leadership seemed to be in bed with the businesses that created the waste.

    Beautys last blog post..The Greed Game? The smart game!

  2. I think the fact that every week there is a different environmental and social problem being discussed is pretty indicative of the fact that what is at the core is what is the problem: we must rethink the way we relate to each other and our world as human beings…we are seriously making the world an Easter Island….I think almost every single environmental and human rights group can come together on the basis of creating cyclical and nurturing forms of consumption and creating mutually enriching relationships amongst us all as people.

    Mwangi-the Displaced Africans last blog post..Stop Reading and Thinking! Do Something Instead (Audio)