Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, electronic waste is building up in my constituency and has become a nuisance to the community but when managed properly, could be of immense social and economic benefit for same.
Mr Speaker, for a rural community like mine and due to the poverty level, the people can only afford used electronic gadgets like television sets, fridges, mobile phones, batteries, et cetera most of which end up not being used at all and tend to be waste.
In many instances, the only visible part of an electronic product is its outer shell. Unless that casing 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.
If these electronic devices are not properly disassembled for proper disposal, they can leak and contaminate their immediate environment, whether that in a landfill or on the streets within the community. Over time, the toxic chemicals of a landfill's e-waste can seep into the ground possibly entering the water supply or escape into the atmosphere, affecting the health of nearby communities.
However, electronic waste contains 40- 50 times the amount of gold in ore mined from the ground, according to a report by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative and the United Nations University. According to this report, between 2001 and 2011, the electronics industry as a whole went from using 197 to 320 tonnes of gold. Everything from blenders to toy dinosaurs have microchips, most of which have some gold. Nevertheless, not more than 15 per cent of the gold in e-waste is being recovered in recycling processes.
Mr Speaker, we are throwing away a lot of gold and wasting energy and resources in mining the ore. Our future leaders, the youth, in some of our mining communities die using unconventional means of mining gold while destroying our environment and wasting resources through ‘galamsey' operations. In the process of mining ore such as this, trees are cut down, mountains are levelled and rivers are polluted. On top of that, the carbon footprint is increased with the material being delivered to Europe, Asia and the Americas. This is before the metal has even gone through the manufacturing process.
Mr Speaker, if this so-called e-waste is properly managed and recycled by trained rural youth right here in Ghana, a lot of the metals inside these electronic devices can be recovered through conventional means instead of throuh ‘galamsey'. It is said that the amount of metal in a cell phone or mobile phone amounts to around sixty times more than in ore. So we can produce metal, which is the same quality as mined metal right here in Ghana, just by collecting metal from these devices, without having to cut down trees or flatten mountains.
Recycling 100 per cent of the metal obtained from ore can reduce the environmental load to one three- hundredth the load created by mining. For example, around 10 tonnes of ore are needed to make a gold ring that weighs 10 grams, but only 0.037 tonnes are needed if the gold from cell phones is recycled.
Mr Speaker, I have not even touched on the benefits of the plastics that come with these electronic devices.
Across Africa, the technology market is predicted to grow by over 8 per cent a year for the next three years. This is great news for the region, but comes at a cost. E-waste in Ghana is growing about 20 per
cent each year due to rising sales of electronic goods and legal and illegal imports of second-hand and surplus equipment. E-waste on the one hand, can cause great harm to the environment, but on the other, can be used as a resource and an economic stimulus.
The necessary attention must therefore be given to the rural youth, especially the youth in my constituency through the creation of “green” jobs through responsible recycling. There is the immediate need for a drastic policy shift and action.
In conclusion, I would like to thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me this space.