The Importance of Secondhand Computers and the Dilemma of Electronic Waste

Media coverage of e-waste seems to be resurging with a recent photo spread (rehashing what all the other media outlets did 4 years ago) in Wired Magazine Online.

For the record, here is my research on what’s been happening in Ghana, specifically in the area known as Agbogbloshie which is a scrap metal recycling area. This is based on 7 weeks of fieldwork back in 2010 including visits to the port at Tema, at the Customs, Excise and Preventative Service of the Government of Ghana, at shops that refurbish and sell computers, at streetside collection points, and at scrap metal collection sites including Agbogbloshie and another one on the outskirts of Accra.

Citation: Chapter 7. in Burrell, Jenna (2012) Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafes of Urban Ghana. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

UPDATE (1/13/16):
Highlighting QAMP the makerspace in Agbogbloshie led by DK Osseo-Asare – The burning truth behind an e-waste dump in Africa: ending the toxic smoke rising from an iconic dump in Ghana will take more than curbing Wastern waste (Smithsonian magazine)

UPDATE (10/12/15):
Great short video on the recyclers, refurbishers, and makers of Ghana’s Agbogbloshie scrap metal yard:

UPDATE (7/27/15):
More accurate coverage of the e-waste issue is out there (but you won’t find in the NY Times, the Guardian or other outlets who seem to have bought into an extremely skewed, Eurocentric narrative), please read:

E-waste Republic (Aljazeera) – by Jacopo Ottaviani

An Infamous E-waste Slum Needed Us. It Got Razed Instead. – by Kyle Wiens

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.