Agenda Shift 2: Agbogbloshie Ghana explained in 11 Minutes / McElvaney Akese Osseo-Asare

This 11 minute video of the exchange between 3 experts in e-waste of Agbogbloshie seems to get into the weeds at some points, but has everything you really need to know on the subject.  Wait for the end, when Ph.D student Grace Akese of Memorial University responds to the German photographer Kevin McElvaney's description of the "mysterious" free market fraud which (he alleges) dumps hundreds of thousands of tons (or millions, perhaps) of obsolete non-working electronic waste on the poor of Africa.

DK Osseo-Asare (an American who has lived in Ghana for 11 years) responds to McElvaney first, explaining that his allegation they goods don't work and aren't repaired is a bit ignorant.  The used products are more likely to work than brand new product sold in Africa.

Then Grace Akese of Kumasi, Ghana, who has researched the flow of goods throughout their 20 year lifecycle, has a chance to answer the question.  Her command of every study and fact about "e-waste" export to Ghana emerges patiently and slowly.  Then she schools McElvaney in a "drop-the-mic" conclusion.

91 percent of the used electronics Africa imports are reused for years.  Asset tags add value in Africa's secondary market.  An African consumer would no more scrape one off than you'd remove Jennifer Lopez's nametag from a shirt at the thrift shop, or scrape off a brand logo.

Grace does not deny polution, or challenges.  But she says McElvaney's photos give Africa's politicians an convenient excuse for not managing the total air and water waste streams generated by a city of 4 million residents who have had TV since the 1980s and earlier, who generate their own e-waste and car-waste and phone-waste.

McElvaney claims that his close-up photos of poor people at the city dump "hold up a mirror" to European society.  Grace and DK, and others at the conference, held up a mirror to photojournalism.  Finally.

Lest I forget, also proud that my editorial on the subject ran during the conference.  See Resource Recycling's run of "Stewardship Malpractice"  It intends to put Africa's Techs and Scrappers at the center of their own story.

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