In 2006, a Dutch company arranged an agreement with an Ivorian businessman. The agreement stated that the dumping of waste was allowed at the Ivorian Coast because they claimed the waste was considered non-toxic. The disposal took place in 12 different places without any confrontation of any authorities. The consequences were enormous: 15 people died, 69 were hospitalized, and 100,000 people complained of nausea and vomiting after inhaling fumes of the toxic waste. The medical centers were overwhelmed by the high need for medical services, and 12 years later, there have been proven high levels of air and ground pollution.  The Ivory Coast is not an isolated case, as in the last century, there has been an increasing problem with developed countries transferring hazardous waste to developing countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, causing environmental and human ruin.
The Problem: Environmental and Health Hazards Caused by Improper Waste Disposal in Africa
The problem starts in many parts: One significant problem is e-waste. Especially Ghana and Nigeria have become important destinations for discarded computers, mobile phones, televisions, and much more. These devices get dumped in landfills, where workers are burning them. The subsequent consequences are environmental damages and severe, irreversible impacts on the workers’ health, as the devices emit dangerous vapors while burning.
Chemical waste is another source of toxic waste. There are several hotspots where the remains of pesticides have been buried or dumped in different countries in Africa, such as Côte d´Ivoire, Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania. The majority of the dumped containers contain organic chemicals and radioactive waste.
There are several cases where the dumping of hazardous waste has caused catastrophes, like in 1987 when an Italian company imported 3,884 tons of toxic, carcinogenic waste to the city of Koko in Nigeria. The consequences were enormous: six people died, a significant number of people suffered severe health damage, and it severely impacted the environment.
The problem is that those cases do not only intoxicate the workers who are affected directly. There have been studies that also show that the quality of drinking water contains toxic chemicals that affect human health. Furthermore, the food supplies get intoxicated as the toxic chemicals get into the atmosphere and the earth and contaminate agriculture. This way, the population living around dumping sites also gets intoxicated and suffers from long-term diseases and health problems.
The Basel Convention Addressing Hazardous Waste Management
There was the need to take action against the problem, which led to the establishment of several agreements. One is the Basel Convention in 1989. This international convention tried to control the transboundary movement of hazardous waste and set standards for the disposal problem.
It obligates the parties to adopt laws prohibiting and sanctioning the import of hazardous waste by national jurisdiction. The aim was to prevent illegal traffic but not entirely prohibit it, as it was allowed in some instances. Unfortunately, some loopholes were found, and the exporters took advantage of them. One problem was that the USA, a great exporter, was not part of the convention, as they claimed it restricted private liberty and free trade. Another great mistake was the explicit exclusion of radioactive waste in the Basel Convention.
The Bamako Convention Aiming to Widen the Scope
As international conventions had been insufficient, African countries saw the need for regional agreements. As a reaction to the lack of efficiency of the Basel Convention, the Bamako Convention was established in 1988. It is similar to the Basel Convention, but the scope is much more comprehensive, as it incorporates radioactive waste.
The Bamako Convention obligates its parties to take legal and administrative measures to prohibit the import of hazardous waste. It totally bans the dumping of hazardous wastes at sea, internal waters, and waterways and requests the parties to fulfill these requirements within their rural jurisdiction and territorial waters. The parties shall sectionize violations.
Although the convention is a milestone in regulating transboundary movement, it contains some deficits. If a party, for example, has not been defined by the Convention, it can choose its own definition, leading to the case that they chose the one they find most “fitting.”
The problem with regional agreements was that they were only regionally binding for the African parties and not the generators themselves, so violations continued. As we have seen, the agreements always incorporated the obligation for the parties to establish national laws prohibiting and sectionizing transboundary movements. Nigeria, for example, established several laws, like the “Harmful Waste Act,” prohibiting the importation or any unlawful purchase of harmful waste. It also determines penalties like lifelong imprisonment. It is one of many great laws that set strict rules. But Ghana, Burundi, Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mali, and Mauritius have also developed several laws criminalizing transboundary movements of hazardous waste.
Developing appropriate protection and regulatory standards represents a step in the right direction. But besides all those partly stringent laws, African countries remain a likely chosen direction for the disposal of hazardous waste. The main reason is the lack of financial resources, insufficient exchange of information between the affected countries, and lack of information for the citizens. Another problem is the overload of the courts, which are already overcharged with cases they have exclusive jurisdiction over and must be prioritized. Moreover, revealing violators is complicated, especially since the procurement against the body corporates remains complicated. Although the countries’ laws often mention them, they do not find themselves in the country of commitment, making it difficult to proceed against them. Still, the governments must seek approval for their legal framework.
Most research focuses on the failure of African countries, while the real problem is the generators, the developed countries. They produce so much waste that they do not even know where to dispose of it. Europe, for example, is by far the biggest importer of e-waste, followed by North America. But the Western Countries do not want it in their own countries as they know how harmful it is, and also do not want to pay the high fees in Western Countries but prefer to pay less in African Countries. A phenomenon which is also referred to as “not- in my backyard” syndrome.
Laws prohibiting and nations working together are the only opportunities to fight against generators and polluters. Also, we must say that some countries have already succeeded; Nigeria and Ghana have arrested criminals and threatened companies in their countries that continued to engage in this terrible trade.
 Okafor-Yarwood, Ifesinachi; Adewumi, Ibukun Jacob: Toxic waste dumping in the Global South as a form of environmental racism: Evidence from the Gulf of Guinea (2020, ISSN), p. 292.
 Asante K. A, Agusa, T: Multi-trace element levels and arsenic speciation in urine of e-waste recycling workers from Agbogbloshie, Accra in Ghana, p. 65.
 Wodageneh, A.: Prevention of accumulation of obsolete unwanted and banned pesticide stocks 13 Draft.
 Oluwafemi, A.: The Contribution of Cartoonists to Environmental Debates in Nigeria: The Koko Toxic-Waste-Dumping Incident,” In: Eco- Images: Historical Views and Political Strategies, p. 61.
 Okafor-Yarwood, I.; Adewumi, I. J: African studies: Toxic waste dumping in the Global South as a form of environmental racism: Evidence from the Gulf of Guinea (2020), p. 291.
 Asante K. A, Agusa, T : Multi-trace element levels and arsenic speciation in the urine of e-waste recycling workers from Agbogbloshie, Accra in Ghana, p. 65.
 Okafor-Yarwood, I.; Adewumi, I. J: African studies: Toxic waste dumping in the Global South as a form of environmental racism: Evidence from the Gulf of Guinea (2020), p. 295.
 Basel Convention, Article 4.
 Clapp, J: Toxic exports to transfer of hazardous wastes from rich to poor countries, p. 3, 4.
 Faga, E.: The Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes: a Comparison between the Basel and the Bamako Convention, p. 35.
 Saleh, P.; Abene, N. M.: Africa and the Problem of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste: An Assessment of Bamako Convention, p. 49.
 The Basel Convention, Article 1 (3).
 Eze, Chukwua N.: the Bamako Convention on the Ban of the import into Africa and the control of transboundary movement and management of hazardous waste within Africa: a milestone in environmental protection, p. 225.
 The Bamako convention, Article 4 Nr. 1, Nr. 2.
 Ovink, B. J.: Transboundary Shipments of Toxic Waste: The Basel and Bamako Conventions: Do Third World Countries Have a Choice?, p. 288.
 Ovink, B. J.: Transboundary Shipments of Toxic Waste: The Basel and Bamako Conventions: Do Third World Countries Have a Choice?, p. 291.
 Van Hoogstraten, D.; Lawrence, P.: Protecting the South Pacific from hazardous and nuclear waste Dumping: The Waigani Convention, p. 272.
 The Harmful Waste (Special Criminal Provisions, etc.) Act, Section 1 (1).
 As mentioned above, Section 6.
 Secretariat of the Basel Convention: Compilation of information relating to legal frameworks in African States, p. 243, 244, 245.
 Ayotamuno, J. M.; Gobo, A. E.: Municipal solid waste management in Port Harcourt, Nigeria Obstacles and prospects, p. 395.
 Nwufo, C. C.: Legal Framework for the regulation of waste in Nigeria, p. 500.
 Sirleaf MVS, “Prosecuting Dirty Dumping in Africa” in Charles C Jalloh, Kamari M Clarke and Vincent O Nmehielle (eds), The African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights in Context: Development and Challenges, p. 58.
 Oteng-Ababio, Martin; Grant, Richard: Mapping the Invisible and Real “African” Economy: Urban E-Waste Circuitry, p.7.8.
 Eze, C. N.: the Bamako Convention on the Ban of the import into Africa and the control of transboundary movement and management of hazardous waste within Africa: a milestone in environmental protection, p. 208.
 Faga, E.: The Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes: a Comparison between the Basel and the Bamako Conventions p. 51.