The US Postal Service (USPS) has with effect from May 16, 2012 stopped the shipment of lithium batteries and any electronics which use a lithium battery outside the US. In a press release, the USPS stated that the ban is as a result of safety concerns.
Lithium batteries have been reclassified as Dangerous Goods under USPS guidelines and policies. The press release hints that the decision is based in part on recent discussions by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) on the safety of lithium batteries on air transport.
A lithium battery can explode or catch fire under certain conditions. It is the reason most consumer electronics products ship with only a minimal charge, reducing the associated risks. Fully charged, improperly stored, or improperly packed lithium batteries are risky and can cause explosions. Some fatal and minor air transport accidents have been attributed to lithium batteries over the past few years.
Nonetheless the USPS stated in the press release that it is confident that on January 1, 2013, it will resume shipments worldwide. After this date, customers will be allowed to mail “specific quantities” of lithium batteries, or devices that contain them. USPS is one of the only postal services following new rules and regulations so strictly and it may therefore revise its decision before the January 1, 2013 date.
“Effective May 16, 2012, the Postal Service™ will revise Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®) section 601.10.20 to codify that primary lithium metal or lithium alloy (nonrechargeable) cells and batteries or secondary lithium-ion cells and batteries (rechargeable) are prohibited when mailed internationally or to and from an APO, FPO, or DPO location. However, this prohibition does not apply to lithium batteries authorized under DMM 601.10.20 when mailed within the United States or its territories.”
Most popular consumer electronics use a lithium battery, including mobile phones, tablets, laptops and cameras. This ban effectively reduces the number of courier options for shipping conusmer electronics into Ghana. USPS is also likely one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest and this will increase costs significantly for consumers who are used to their rates. This means for a good number of individuals and resellers, this could affect their prices and profit margins.
There are of course other options for shipping consumer electronics into Ghana and the popular private courier services (UPS, Fedex, DHL and TNT) will certainly pick up the excess shipments. Private courier services are however more expensive, sometimes in the regions of hundreds of dollars.
There are also additional options in the form of freight forwarders, companies that receive your parcels on your behalf and forward it to an address of your choice. Freight forwarders might actually be the ones to benefit as their services usually are more competitively priced as compared to the big courier companies.
Not sure if a particular category of products you have in mind might be affected. Look at the following table USPS has provided to detail the categories of produts affected