Carmignac Photojournalism Award
E-WASTE IN GHANA
Laureates: a collaborative reportage by Anas Aremeyaw Anas, Muntaka Chasant and Bénédicte Kurzen
© Muntaka Chasant for Fondation Carmignac
The 13th edition of the Carmignac Photojournalism Award is dedicated to Ghana and the ecological and human challenges associated with the transboundary flow of electronic waste. The award was granted to a team made up of investigative anti-corruption journalist and activist Anas Aremeyaw Anas and photojournalists Muntaka Chasant and Bénédicte Kurzen (NOOR).
In 2019, the world generated 53.6 million tons of electronic waste (e-waste), marking a 21% increase in five years. This makes discarded smartphones, tablets, computers, and other electronics not only one of the largest sources of global waste but also incredibly valuable (containing precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum group metals). If this trend continues, in the absence of sustainable recycling or repair solutions, global electronic waste will reach 74 million metric tons by 2030. In 2019, only 17.4 % of the 53.6 million tons of e-waste were collected and recycled in a dedicated channel.
Having long invaded Asia, Europe and the United States are now shipping industrial quantities of e-waste to West African countries like Ghana, in violation of international treaties. Ghana, known for political stability, now faces a proliferation of informal open-air landfill sites near homes, following the dismantling of the Agbogbloshie scrapyard in July 2021.
It was against this backdrop that began the investigation by Anas Aremeyaw Anas and photojournalists Muntaka Chasant and Bénédicte Kurzen, which combines photography, video, audio recordings and writing. Departing from the dramatic imagery often used by the media to portray Ghana as “the dustbin of the world”, they spent six months documenting this incredibly ambiguous and complex ecosystem, which is both a crucial economic opportunity for thousands of people in Ghana and has a considerable human and environmental impact. Together, combining a national and international approach, the team studied the ramifications of e-waste trafficking between Europe and Ghana, revealing the opacity of this globalised cycle.
© Bénédicte Kurzen / NOOR; Muntaka Chasant for Fondation Carmignac
Delving into the complex world of second-hand electronics in Ghana and Europe, Bénédicte Kurzen documented the e-waste flows and the communities that activate them, challenging negative stereotypes of exporters and highlighting the inefficiency of European e-waste bureaucracy. At the other end of the chain, in Accra, the capital of Ghana, researcher and documentary photographer Muntaka Chasant immersed himself in a sociological analysis of this economy on which many communities depend. With precision, he analyses the social groups of e-waste workers, revealing a hierarchical organisation and the mechanisms of migration from northeast Ghana. With his team, Anas Aremeyaw Anas infiltrated the ports of Accra to reveal the legal and illegal flows of e-waste. Working undercover and using trackers implanted in illegal waste, he unmasked the strategies and corruption that enable people to circumvent the law, both in Europe and in Ghana.
The 13th Carmignac Photojournalism Award will be exhibited in Paris and New York in 2023-2024 and will be the subject of a monograph, co-published by the Fondation Carmignac and Reliefs Éditions.
Captions from top to bottom: Timber Market, Accra, Ghana. February 16, 2023. Ali, a scrap worker, uses a subwoofer magnet to recover metal debris buried under the soil following a fire outbreak that razed down hundreds of wooden shacks at an informal settlement near Timber Market, across from Old Fadama. © Muntaka Chasant pour la Fondation Carmignac
The Netherlands, Rotterdam, June 2023. Rotterdam was by far the EU port with the largest activity in the fourth quarter of 2022, with 111 million tons of gross weight of goods handled. © Bénédicte Kurzen for Fondation Carmignac / NOOR
Ghana, Accra, Zongo Lane, Spring 2023. Hundreds of small shops for all types of electronics components, modules, and general parts populate the narrow streets of this old Accra neighborhood. © Bénédicte Kurzen for Fondation Carmignac / NOOR
Old Fadama, Accra, Ghana, February 9, 2023. Simon Aniah, 24, burns scrap electrical cables to recover copper by the Korle Lagoon. © Muntaka Chasant for Fondation Carmignac
Dr Kees Baldé – Senior Scientific Specialist, United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
Fabiola Ferrero – Photojournalist, laureate of the 12th edition of the Carmignac Photojournalism Award
Vera Kwakofi – Senior News Editor, Commissioning with the BBC World Service, responsible for the BBC’s International TV Operations in Africa.
Lars Lindemann – Independent curator
Azu Nwagbogu – Independant curator, Director and Founder of African Artists’ Foundation and Lagos Photo Festival
Alona Pardo – Curator, Barbican Art Gallery
Fiona Shields – Director of Photography, The Guardian
Mikko Takkunen – Photo Editor International, The New York Times
Marta Weiss – Senior Curator, Photography Victoria & Albert Museum
Muntaka Chasant (Ghana, 1985) is a Ghanaian documentary photographer and independent researcher with long-standing interests in issues at the intersection of human geography and environmental sociology. His work has appeared in academic journals, magazines, and newspapers worldwide. Muntaka challenges conventional views of environmental justice sites, offering new perspectives on distant suffering. With a postgraduate background in international relations, his work advocates for people and communities entangled in socio-spatial struggles that have become global in nature. Muntaka also explores memory and future dialogues, crafting narratives of alternative futures through the interplay of remembering and forgetting, memory, and identity.
Bénédicte Kurzen (France, 1980) is a photographer exploring cross-cultural narratives and mythologies, reshaping social concepts and representations. Her work blends documentary elements with a metaphoric visual language and collaborative processes. Kurzen began her career in 2003 in the Middle East before moving to Africa where she lived and produced substantial work on social changes and tensions in South Africa and Nigeria. Since 2018, she has deepened her work on mythologies in Nigeria and China, focusing on twin cosmologies and examining the persistence of ancient beliefs in Mayotte. Kurzen has been published internationally for the past twenty years and received several distinctions including a World Press Photo Prize in 2019. She is a member of NOOR Images and of the Photo Society.
Anas Aremeyaw Anas (Ghana, 1978), CEO of the investigative organization Tiger Eye, is an award-winning undercover investigative journalist, lawyer, and anti-corruption campaigner. In disguise, he infiltrates asylums, brothels, prisons, orphanages, and villages, meticulously collecting evidence for impactful stories. He then presents this evidence to authorities, leading to significant changes in Ghana’s judiciary, law enforcement, professional sports, child welfare, and mental health services, among other areas. His journalistic work, both print, and video, is published by reputable media organisations such as the BBC, CNN, and Al Jazeera.
The Fondation Carmignac was founded in 2000 by Edouard Carmignac, a French entrepreneur, CEO and Chairman of asset management company Carmignac. Today, it is structured around three main pillars which developed one after the other. The Carmignac Collection, which has over 300 works of contemporary art, the Carmignac Photojournalism Award and the Villa Carmignac in Porquerolles which offers temporary exhibitions and a rich cultural programme in a 2000-square-meter art space set in a 15-hectare estate at the heart of a protected site.
More information: fondationcarmignac.com
The Carmignac Photojournalism Award
In 2009, while media and photojournalism faced an unprecedented crisis, Edouard Carmignac created the Carmignac Photojournalism Award to support photographers in the field. Every year, it funds the production of an investigative photo reportage on human rights violations and geo-strategic issues in the world. The Fondation Carmignac provides the laureate with financial and human resources to carry out their project and produces both a monograph and a traveling exhibition, aiming to shed light on the crises and challenges which the contemporary world is facing. Previous editions of the Carmignac Photojournalism Award have focused on: Gaza (Kai Wiedenhöfer); Pachtunistan (Massimo Berruti); Zimbabwe (Robin Hammond); Chechnya (Davide Monteleone); Iran (Newsha Tavakolian); Guyana (Christophe Gin); Libya (Narciso Contreras); Nepal (Lizzie Sadin); the Arctic (Kadir van Lohuizen and Yuri Kozyrev); the Amazon (Tommaso Protti), the Democratic Republic of Congo (Finbarr O’Reilly and the collective of photographers for the project “Congo in Conversation”) and Venezuela (Fabiola Ferrero).
More information: fondationcarmignac.com/en/photojournalism-award/
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