Africa transforms electronic waste
African entrepreneurs are bringing e-waste back to life! Africa is tackling a global scourge: electronic waste. Workers and entrepreneurs are building this new circular economy.
A circular economy
In Africa, a new ecosystem was born: that of faulty electronic devices. Instead of leaving these materials in the garbage, informal workers and companies recycle them! In Accra, Ghana, architects Yasmine Abbas and DK Osseo-Asare created the Agbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP) in 2012 in one of the world’s largest electronic waste dumps. The AMP networks manufacturers and organizes workshops to learn how to recycle these wastes. With jerry cans and recovered computer parts, they build computer mainframes! In the north of the country, the start-up Appcyclers has launched a platform for exchanging electronic devices and promotes recycling. And it has developed a prototype of an egg incubator made from abandoned refrigerators; this allows breeders to benefit from a very useful device without going broke. In Tanzania, the Buni Hub innovation center has transformed electronic waste into 3D printers! The production complex uses them to edit other printers of this type, and it recently tested them to make medical tools (prostheses…). Multiple companies are also spreading all over the continent to develop this new circular economy.
Innovating in green
Recycling systems for electronic equipment are helping to build a greener future. By reusing existing products, production can be reduced, and at the same time, the use of raw materials can be reduced. As a result, manufacturing processes cause fewer greenhouse gases, which moderates global energy consumption. In this respect, AMT has received several awards, including the Urban Innovation Award from Le Monde. By generating jobs, these companies train people in beneficial know-how. Then, according to Y.Abbas, co-founder of AMT, it is a question of “fighting against programmed obsolescence and showing that we can do with what we already have and fight against consumerism”.
If Africa is precarious in this area, it is because the continent is collecting more and more electronic waste from the West. The latter is expected to increase by 40% by 2030, reaching 74 million tons. A scourge that returns to Africa, the main importers of products that are supposed to be refurbished. However, the majority remains unrecoverable. This situation reveals the shortcomings of waste management policies. And yet, electronics include more than 1000 substances, including toxic elements. Burning them or leaving them in landfills poses a threat to residents and the environment.
Sources: Positive News, TV5 Monde, Ecologie Sans Frontière, Close the Gap
Images: Emmet/Pexels, Close The Gap Kenya
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