From May 6 to 9 the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and Holland Circular Hotspot supported by Closing the Loop and Metasus went on a fact finding mission in Accra, Ghana. One of the main activities was the visit to Agbogbloshie, worldwide known as one of the most polluted slums by hosting one of the largest electronic waste dumps on the continent.
This market survey was carried out by Mr. Bert Keesman of MetaSus as part of an assignment by the Foundation Holland Circular Hotspot.
Agbogbloshie is an urban area in Ghana’s capital Accra, housing a vegetable market, a scrap metal yard, a large slum, an industrial area, and a household waste dump. Its e-waste landfill has achieved notoriety as one of the most polluted slums in the world by hosting one of the largest electronic waste dumps on the continent. Pollution in land and in water bodies has reached dramatic levels.Some of the most hazardous chemicals on Earth enter the food chain in Ghana from illegally disposed electronic waste coming from Europe. According to a new report by two environmental groups tracking the disposal of e-waste, chicken eggs from the Agbogbloshie slum contain dangerous levels of dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), among other harmful substances. Other toxic chemicals were present in similarly worrying concentrations, including PCBs and fire-retardant compounds. Dioxins, in particular, are highly damaging even in small concentrations.
As with most African countries waste management is underdeveloped. A system with structured collection, sorting, recycling and uptake of recycles by local industry still has to be rolled out broader and perfected.65% of domestic waste is organic and landfill e-waste still enters the countries from Europe and USA. There are no waste incinerators yet, but there is hope; alternatives to strip cables under safe working conditions instead of burning them have been set up, but are for now not more than a drop of water in the ocean of the dump-site.
During the fact finding mission in Accra, The Netherlands Enterprise Agency and Holland Circular Hotspot supported by Closing the Loop and Metasus had in-depth discussions with the waste management and recycling branch, the Ministries of Environment and Sanitation, the Dutch business community in Ghana, The African Circular Economy Netwerk (ACEN), the World Bank and UNDP. The momentum was well chosen and coincided with the first EU Circular Economy Seminar. Holland Circular Hotspot moderated the EU event and Closing the Loop was one of the Dutch panel members. More than 200 policymakers, NGO’s, business and associations participated. The passion for debate of the Ghanaian people was contagious.
In-depth workshops were held on plastics, which like elsewhere in the world, is a huge topic in Ghana, E-waste (Accra’s Agbogbloshie e-waste landfill has achieved notoriety as one of the most polluted slums in the world) and sustainable and circular agriculture, including circular solutions for organic waste. UNDP is setting up a network and a digital platform on waste, recycling and circular economy. The support of the Embassy in the discussion and programme has been highly professional and well appreciated.
Ghana is often called Africa light, as it is a safe and stable country and the second fastest growing economy in the continent, with educated and friendly people.However that doesn’t make Ghana necessarily easy for business. Aligning the various public and private players and overcoming administrative hurdles, coping with interest rates is not for those looking for an easy walk in the park. For entrepreneurs that are in it for the long run there are plenty opportunities with huge market potential. Dutch entrepreneurs are already active in textile, agriculture, renewable energy and waste management (electronics, organics).
Holland Circular Hotspots supported by Metasus will present the findings of the Waste management & Circular Economy Fact Finding Mission on June 27 at the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (more information to follow).