Game Theory 5: Yankee Ingenuity changes to Soukous Ingenuity

Time to tweek the English Vocabulary.

This post is about "aid" or "nurture" versus strategy for growth and self-sustaining economies.  It's not the proverb "teach a man to fish".  It's "Dudes!  Don't even you see this guy is fishing successfully?  Give him back his dang fishing pole.  Like, primum non nocere already!"
Strategy Topics
for some reason this depicts strategy by wiki

"Yankee Ingenuity" was a term recognized virtually worldwide after World War II, though it harkened back the a period much earlier, when New England's industrialization began making "good enough" product  in competition with English and European manufacturing.   Paper mills, weavers, cotton gins, and printing presses (like the used one purchased by teenaged Ben Franklin from London prior to the Revolutionary War) were often erected with "tinkered" parts.   Reuse, repair, and upgrade were recognized as a talent associated with poverty and a "can do" attitude.

My generation of schoolchildren in the 1960s saw "yankee ingenuity" in our history textbooks, it was so promoted that Wikipedia's editor is within h/h rights to label it a "stereotype".  

But what we really need is a term that African and Asian and South American Tinkerers can be proud of.  The "tinkerer's blessing", as I've dubbed it refers to can-do/make-do in contrast to the "Resource Curse".   But 'blessing' is a description of an effect, whereas "Yankee Ingenuity" gave respect to the people performing the repairs and upgrades.   Tinkerer's Blessing refers to the effects the Geeks of Color have on their own emerging city or country.   What do we label the drive within the African, the Joe Benson, the Hamdy Moussa?  How do we regionalize Acer's Simon Lin or Terry Gou's adaptation of "semi-knockdown" and "elective upgrade" in a way that signifies a "tip of the hat?"

Barenaked #PovertyPorn: Venn Diagram Shows Truth of Africa EWaste Market

Pal Adam in Malaysia forwarded this to me, suggesting it was good blog fodder.  And it is, except that it speaks for itself.

Here is a story which cannot seem to "speak for itself" to many reporters I meet...

In 4 days I'll be leaving to meet three reporter/documentarians at Agbogbloshie, who are working on a very similar story in Ghana.  I've provided each with some of the same information.  I have shared hard data on the sources of these diagrams, but will still treat it as a "thesis" and look for evidence to confirm or deny the "E-Waste Hoax" from the heart of Agbogbloshie, Ghana.

Here's my thesis:

  1. Wealthy OECD nations use brand new computer displays, TVs and cars for about 4 years average (afterwards these go into the "secondary market").
  2. CRT displays and cars last an average 15-25 years (depending on hours of use / mileage)
  3. Rapidly urbanizing cities like Lagos and Accra have electricity, average per capita incomes of about $3000 per year, and access to television broadcast and internet (and highways).  The purchase price of the electronics is a very high percentage of wages, which supports a vibrant repair infrastructure.
  4. Repairpeople (like Joe Benson, Emmanuel Nyaletey, Wahab Odoi) can repair 15 year old electronics sourced in Ghana and Lagos, but make far more money repairing (or finding working) appliances that are 4-5 years old from wealthy nations.  
  5. As appliances from the 1990s and 2000s wear out in Ghana and Nigeria, most owners take them to be repaired, but are often convinced instead to buy a newer 5 year old model from London rather than repair their 20 year old appliance from London.
  6. The commerce funding the imports of 500+ imported containers per month is the reuse and resale market which sells affordable "good enough" technology for 25% the cost of brand new.

Explaining the circles... New product sales are estimated at 30% of total sales.  That's like Egypt in 2002, and it will change (today new product is a higher percentage of Egyptian markets).   Used electronics products are estimated at 70% of electronics sales.  A small portion of each may go "directly to Agbogbloshie", but it is far more likely (85%-93%) will be used for a decade or more.    Meanwhile, most of the "junk" at the African dump have nothing to do with electronics.

Even if no imports at all come to Accra, the amount of scrap and waste arriving at Agbogbloshie will continue to increase for the next 15 years, based on sales documented by World Bank in 2003.