The Nigerian government says it is deeply concerned about the dumping
of potentially toxic electronic waste and has promised to clamp down on
illegal imports of e-waste.
Speakers at an international
conference on the hazards of electronic waste in Abuja say Nigeria has
become a giant dumping ground where hundreds of millions of tons of
electronic waste ends up each year.
Nigerian Justice Minister
Michael Aondoakaa says the growing trade in hazardous waste to Africa
is a result of electronic companies' failing to take responsibility for
recycling their products and constitutes a crime against humanity.
effects of technology on countries that do not have the capacity to
manage the harmful effects of technology must be controlled. And, the
control must come from firms and organizations that manufacture this
technology," he said. "We have health challenges. We also have
challenges in the provision of health care to our people. And, if we
have the kind of injurious substances coming here, government will face
unprecedented challenge. I consider this not just an environmental
hazard, but also a crime against humanity."
government says it has ordered its customs services, security and
environmental agencies to clamp down on illegal imports of obsolete
According to a 2007 report by the Basel
Action Network, about 500 containers with 400,000 second-hand computers
are delivered each month in Lagos - Nigeria's most populous city, with
15 million people.
Waste from products such as televisions,
computers, computer monitors, cell phones, keyboards and radios are
known as electronic waste, or e-waste. It is a vast and growing
market, estimated at 50 million tons a year. Much of it is dumped in
Nigeria and other developing countries.
Used computers are very
popular in Nigeria because they are much cheaper. The chairman of the
Nigerian House of Representatives Committee on Environment, Dino
Meneye, says electronic companies are exploiting the weakness of the
"The influx of electronic waste in Nigeria is a
function of many factors. These include unbridled tendencies of the
developed nations to dump toxic waste and pollutants in developing
nations, the porous nature of the nation's borders, high level of
poverty and, most especially, the dubious disposition of some importers
and traders to import and sell toxic wastes to unsuspecting consumers,"
Analysts say e-waste dumping is a major health and
environmental hazard because of the substances contained in most
electronic products, such as lead, cadmium and mercury. If improperly
disposed of, these toxic materials inside e-waste leak out and poison
soil and groundwater.