|Africans have a better idea about which view of Africa's the fine one|
A month living with Africa's Tech Sector is like the opposite of the movie "The Matrix". In the matrix all the humans think they are living in a normal world, but in reality dwell in torrid humid dystopic conditions. Take the red pill, and you see the horror of reality...
Africa's Tech Sector has been described in halloweenish, dystopian, horrific terms by agents of the Charitable Industrial Complex, Big Shred, and Planned Obsolescence. Take the blue pill, and you find a bunch of intelligent, happy, funny people living in a normal world of value added, growing standards of living, and healthy teledensity.
So just close your eyes, count backwards from Three, and when I snap my fingers, we'll solve Africa's real e-waste problems efficiently, fairly, and fairly quickly.
It's time for the good news!
Morpheus's "dirty little secret" isn't the truth.
The Truth in Africa isn't "Sodom and Gomorrah" or "Eden" either. But it's a lot more like "Avatar" than it is "The Matrix". Once you live here and see people are kind of the same, the solutions become easier to do.
There are simple and friendly and affordable solutions here. (And the EU can still get all the unobtanium it wants.) America is teaching Africa and Europe to "Dab" together, trade together, cooperate together. With a little Interpol "community policing" we'll suffer less "collateral damage".
|Dabbing to the Blue Pill! Africa Dey FINE!|
The Joy of Fair Trade Recycling, continued
Here They Are - Three easy solutions to Africa's "e-Waste Problem". None involves bans on export, shredding repairable goods, racial profiling, or jailing Geeks of Color. And they are cheap.
1) Buy lots of good sustainable recycled-content stuff made in Africa.
You've been buying stuff made of mined African minerals all your life. Try buying from African recyclers, instead. Fair Trade Recycling jewelry, made from UNBURNED copper separated by 3 Muskateers of Agbogbloshie (near their families in Tamale), by Tech Sector connected metalsmiths. Buy it, wear it, have it embossed with your name. Every time you show it, you can tell people you saved it from Agbogbloshie and hired people in the process.
2) Increase Trade and Supply to Africa's Cheerful, Smart Tech Sector.
We have taken hours of film, showing LCD and TV repairpeople doing things like re-manufacturing K-capacitors (bout the size of a pinky fingernail) for repurposing flat TVs, making 40-year old Japanese imported TVs work for the first time by remote control, fixing cell phones and laptops and making Africa's Teledensity (cell phones, TV, radio, internet) higher than USA or Europe had 2 decades ago. Honest, smart, hard working people should have more choice of suppliers, not less. Just stop saying they need "fully functional" and instead ask WHAT they want and they will tell you. If they prefer a non-working Core 4 to a tested working XP Pentium III, trust me there's a reason. They know more than you do, get out of the way.
3) E-Waste Offset - Help the Tech Sector Takeback, ship decades old stuff to EU or USA recyclers.
If Europe is concerned about "losing strategic metals and minerals" back to the continent that mined them originally, talk to us, dudes. The unobtainium is right here, available for recycling, after decades of reuse. Don't arrest Joseph Bensons, talk to them. They know where the goods (like old TVs) are that were imported 40, 30, 20 years ago. They aren't involved in the takeback of those now, which is why the junk winds up in a junkyard (Agbogbloshie). But if you discount the goods they ask for, they are ready and able partners to get you back the "strategic minerals" you say you need.
Don't mistake stuff that was imported 25 years ago for recent imports. Use cash from sale of current imports to take back, send back, re-export that stuff. We've arranged 40' of junk once-imported containers to ship back to EU for $1200 - recycling fees included! That's 10% of the average purchase price of a container of new equipment paid for by Africa's Tech Sector. Discount the sale and they'll gladly ship you back your 1990s TV set.
Here in Ghana, my buddies in the Tech Sector and I have arranged all 3 of these in 3 weeks time. Today I got a purchase order for re-export of 20 tons of junk TVs we have identified at 3 locations in Tamale, for less than $2 per TV.
And all this time Fair Trade Recycling hasn't been asking you for money.
We haven't been showing you dystopian poster children to make you feel guilty.
We haven't been trying to pass new red tape, laws or regulations.
We can do this really easily, as entrepreneurs.
If you don't want to export to us, that's ok. Just don't pass laws that make our international, interracial partnerships illegal. Loving vs. Virginia laws are soooo 1970.
Just trade with us. Just stop calling for our arrest. Please stop racially profiling our members from southern geographies as "primitives". Just do a little background research on World Bank data, see how many TVs (and cars and fridges and cell phones and tires) are flowing through Africa's circular economy.
And I promise you will discover an amazing upside. You will see people for what they can do, not for what they cannot do. You will see male Muslim techs whose books are kept by secular African women. You will meet 14 year old kids learning valuable trade skills. You will make friends, and learn just how incredibly quickly racial distrust dissolves.
And in return I will find you the best way to tour Africa. Go to the photosafari with a TV repairman, a laptop technician, or a cell phone repairer. Go out to eat with a valedictorian whose repair job brings his family 10 times the average wage of other Africans. Go hear some live music with women who (generally) manage the finances and retail operations at these shops, who are models of modern African society.
See Techs from the Muslim north laughing and trading with Christians and animists a secular traders across West Africa. See 15 year old repair apprentices learning from 55 year old CRT repairmen, who are father figures. Hear, as I did, 25 year olds returning to the north from Agbogbloshie, advising the 15 year old how important it is to stay in school.
Ride on the back of a motorcycle through the African marketplace. See a Nigerian soap opera on one of the 20 stations in Accra. Trade in your non-working laptop, watch it repaired, and get a cell phone tablet and sim card for the duration of your visit.
Fair Trade Recycling is far more than a way to Pay for Africa E-Waste Cleanup. Way more.
It is learning, letting African experts train YOU what they can do. You will come away with a rare gift, the ability to see people for what they CAN do rather than solely for what they CANNOT do.
I'm offering a new kind of URBAN ECO-TOURISM. Come the the beach, ride horses, sing karaoke. Meet the Geeks of Color I've been writing about for the past decade. You will fall in love with Fair Trade Recycling, you will absolutely wish you'd never seen "E-Waste Hell" or "E-waste Tragedy" or "Sodom and Gomorrah" or "Still Not Sponsored".
Take the blue pill. Please. It's great. It's wonderful. Reality is better than dystopian fantasy.
I have thoroughly investigated the "Dirty Little Secret" which NGOs told us about "ewaste" in "Stuff". And I discovered a whole different movie. My movie is Avatar.
|Saida, wife of Yahroo Agbogbloshie worker from Savelugu - who's 25 years old not 14 WashPost|
"This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more."