An African Tech Reacts to "The E-Waste Tragedy"

EntertainmentEmmanuel E.P. Nyaletey is an electronics technician, currently on scholarship at Georgia Tech in Marrietta, where he's pursuing a degree in coding.    Emmanuel grew up a few blocks from the alleged largest "e-waste dump" of Agbogbloshie.    He went back to visit Agbogbloshie in March 2014.  Emmanual and I both attended the USA premier of Cosima Dannoritzer's documentary, The E-Waste Tragedy hosted by Jim Puckett of Basel Action Network... the inspiration of my past 6 blog posts.

Nyaletey has written an essay, reacting to the film, and it was posted on the ISRI.org blog last week.
It is worth a humble read.

Link:    My Reaction to the Film 'The E-Waste Tragedy' by Emmanuel Nyaletey.

The urbanization, electrification, and rapid development in African cities and other "emerging markets" is changing not just the landscape of Africa, but the foundations of the Guilt-AID industry.

 Since the BAN.org NGO publicly denied its previous claims that most of Africa's imports are "reuse excuse" junk, destined for "primitive recycling", the internet has begun to explode with exasperation, much of it (like Emmanuel's essay) written as eyewitness accounts.

William Buffett's essay, "The Charitable Industrial Complex", Cassandra Herrman's documentary #Framed, Heather Agyepong's "The Gaze on Agbogbloshie", and the "Rusty Radiator Awards" are well-heeled responses this blog has been inspired by over the past year.   What's harder to document are the less well produced, naturally exasperated reactions by ordinary businesspeople (like Joseph Benson) who trade "good enough" product to Africa's metropoleses (new articles in New Republic and the Guardian at bottom).

Check out the reaction to Bob Geldoff's "Band AID" on this UK talk show program.

Ghana Geek fixes Camera at Good Point Recycling
The lens is turning.  The photographers, and exotic gaze itself, is being examined by a new generation, born decades after "loving vs. virginia".  Touche pas a mon pote, biensur.

E-Waste Tragedy 5: The Guideline to Eden

( Alternative title:  The E-Waste Comedy? )

"Hurricane Joe Benson" is locked up in a UK prison, away from his family.  His home is at stake, his retirement at stake, because he pleaded guilty to violating GUIDELINES.   Guidelines designed by policy wonks, in response to lies, to protect Africans (from Africans)...

No offense to E-Stewards... but instead of donating to BAN.org, environmentalists should be contributing to a class action defamation lawsuit.

Here is a link to the "Guidelines", developed in Europe, to save Africans from Africans.  The "Guidelines" are behind "Project Eden", INTERPOL's effort to divert some international police away from ivory, drug, and guns dealers to focus on television repair in Ghana and Nigeria.  Those jobs are documented by UN research to reuse 91% of the material they import, generating 6 times the average wages in those countries, and providing access to mass media without mining, refining, generating carbon, etc.


The whole thing reminds me a bit of "Escape to Chimp Eden", the Animal Planet program hosted by Eugene Cussons.  Cussons rescues poor chimpanzees and brings them safely from bad zoos to good zoos.   Except that the technicians in Africa are by far smarter, and know more, than either the "experts" on "e-waste" in Europe or the chimps.   They could give Kyle Wiens of IFIXIT a run for his money.   This whole idea of guidelines to train Chinese and Africans to properly repair and recycle... is a tragedy in the making.

By far the worst #WhiteSaviorComplex film I have seen is Dannonitzer's "The E-Waste Tragedy".  I don't like to drop the "r" word, but the film takes the word of a bigot who makes money selling shameful images and uses them to raise money for his own salary, and to put technicians in jail.

Alternative title:  The E-Waste Comedy? continued

E-Waste Tragedy 4: The Perils Of Guidelines Drafted from False Perception (Ipsos MORI blog)

Ipsos MORI meets South Park's Satan...

This is the fourth part of a series of blogs following the documentary "The E-Waste Tragedy".  Emceed by Jim Puckett, premiered at the E-Scrap Conference 2014 in Orlando, the film by Cosima Dannonitzer purported to show junk electronics, dumped in Ghana.   They "followed the trail" back to the electronics origins in England.   I viewed the film with Emmanuel Eric Prempeh Nyaletey, who grew up a few blocks from Agbogbloshie, Accra's scrapyard.  He was carrying a petition to #FreeJoeBenson, the Nigerian expat sitting in prison in the UK for "violating e-waste export guidelines", and no one at the conference wanted to sign it.

Ipsos MORI is one of the UK's leading research organizations.   The website describes Ipsos MORI's 16,000 research staff in 84 countries.  Like Q-method, the organization relies on face-to-face interviews.   They get the real data for IMF, World Bank, and UN factbooks.   Last Month, Ipsos MORI published research titled "Perceptions are Not Reality:  Things the World Gets Wrong".

The Perceptions are Not Reality publication focuses on the "top ten" things which the majority of people in a society (14) perceive wrongly about themselves, about their own, local and national, civilization.  The web page starts with statistics, perceived and real, about facts on the ground in Great Britain:

"In Great Britain we get a lot of things very wrong…"
  1. Teenage pregnancy: the British think one in six (16%) of all teenage girls aged 15-19 give birth each year, when the actual figure is only 3%.
  2. Muslims: we hugely over-estimate the proportion of Muslims in Britain – we think one in five British people are Muslims (21%) when the actual figure is 5% (one in twenty).
  3. Christians: in contrast, we underestimate the proportion of Christians - we think 39% of the country identify themselves as Christian compared with the actual figure of 59%.
  4. Immigration: we think 24% of the population are immigrants – which is nearly twice the real figure of 13%.
  5. Ageing population: we think the British population is much older than it actually is – the average estimate is that 37% of the population are 65+, when it is in fact only 17%.
  6. Voting: we underestimate the proportion of the electorate that voted in the last general election - the average guess is 49% when the official turnout was much higher at 66%.
  7. Unemployment: we think nearly 24% of the working age population are unemployed when the actual figure is much lower at 7%.
  8. Life expectancy: we overestimate our life expectancy by three years, thinking the average for a child born in 2014 will be 83 years, when the actual estimate is 80 years.
  9. Murder rates: we are however one of the best informed countries on the murder rate: 49% saying it is falling (which is correct), and only 25% think it is rising

Unfortunately if not surprisingly, the USA perceptions aren't even as accurate as the UKs.

The perceptions of risks, and how those (mis-)perceptions are monetized when they go viral, has long been a theme of this blog.   But mis-perception and misconception, by itself, is not a tragedy.

Knowledge of the world around us is increasing, societies are becoming more aware of one another, and if Ipsos MORI continues to survey people over time, I hope they find that the trend in the perceptions will become more accurate.  We are more frightened by ebola than we should be, but 50 years ago, would we have known about ebola at all?

Misperception of facts do not make a "tragedy" unless we gear up to act on those "faux facts".   And what motivates society?

GREED and FEAR.

Got misperception?   Use it to motivate and market to regulators.

7 Steps To Create a Profitable ("E-waste") Hoax

No one denies that the volume of unwanted electronic scrap is growing.   Gadgets improve lives around the world.   They don't work forever.  But they often have more than one life.

Display devices (more than half of all the e-Scrap) are like used automobiles.  The average life of an automobile (15k miles per year, 200k miles per car) is about 13 years... some last longer, some shorter.   But the average first ownership of cars is less than 50 months, or about 4 years.    

Some people (with means) like to buy new cars every 3-5 years. Same goes for television and video displays.   Just as the cars roll around for twice the number of years they were used by the first owner, there's a secondary market for TVs, PCs, and their display devices.   

How can a do-gooder create a $3M non-profit out of the used appliance (or used car) market? 

1.  Create a fake news crisis  

Tell all the environmentalists that you have a "dirty little secret"... that most of the electronic material they have brought in to recycling centers didn't really get recycled in the USA, or at all.   CBS 60 Minutes, PBS Frontline, NPR, USA Today, BusinessWeek, BBC will come running to you with the microphone.  You are marketing a believable message to people who are already "activated" on the topic (already making the effort to bring old gear for recycling).

This is key, you aren't trying to convince people to care, you are taking people who already care and convincing them of a scandal.   For example: