Today Agbogbloshie scrap dealers, together with Ashesi University students from Kobby Ankomah-Graham‘s seminar, helped Belgian-Beninese artist Fabrice Monteiro and Senegalese designer Doulsy scout locations for their Prophecy II photo series. The Prophecy I series probed the issue of environmental pollution by evoking spirits of the earth, dispatched to either plead or warn humans to change our ways lest we kill our mother planet. Per panel discussion with Fabrice at Ashesi, the Prophecy II series will be a diptych contrasting the needless excess of planned obsolescence against the devastating human and environmental destruction used to extract the resources from which our electronic devices are produced out of the earth.
It was noticeable and community members confirmed that you now see only smaller stockpiles of circuit boards and plastic monitor cases, for example, because buyers are more consistent and frequent. What AMP affirms about Fabrice’s project is that it is creating a space—mythical but real at the same time—reminding us all to take action now, before its too late to save this planet.
Fabrice testing frames and Doulsy smiling upon a scrap dealer’s reveal of treasure trove of VHS cassette tapes (part of the costume design):
In January 2016 AMP ran a one-week #ampqamp with students from Princeton University’s PACE Center for Civic Engagement focused on making short health & safety videos for the Agbogbloshie scrap dealers community, narrated in Dagbani.
This group of students, led by Ellie Sell ’17 and Christie Jiang ’17, opted not only to volunteer collaborating on the AMP project as a form of ‘alternative spring break’, but also to spend months prior planning their trip and conducting research around issues of health and safety related to unregulated e-waste processing plus weeks after their visit to Ghana editing and producing the videos. (They blogged about it here.)
Watch the Youtube playlist of videos they produced below. For more on how this connects to the full AMP project, check out this Q&A with the Princeton PACE Center. A huge thank you to the whole team from all of AMP!
The AMP makers collective has run over 35 workshops to date around the theme of transforming the Agbogbloshie scrap and recycling ecosystem into a network for distributed manufacturing and digital fabrication.
Here is a list of the main events held as part of the AMP series of informal maker workshops to build the future of Agbogbloshie:
#ampqamp 2015—building on student work around storyboarding in the latest M&D cycle—centered on codesign of the AMP app through a participatory design process involving Agbogbloshie scrap dealers, #STEAM students and recent graduates from Ghana, Senegal/Mali, Estonia, Russia, France and USA through collaboration between AMP, Bazaar Strategies and The Cobalt Partners with support from the Fetzer Institute.
We have a huge blog posts backlog, but here is at least one regarding sound recording conducted in Agbogbloshie on the 22/7/2014 (a while back!), the day Ellen Foster, PhD candidate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY visited AMP (Thank you for recording a major part of it). So much has been said about Agbogbloshie but not often the right story! Agbogbloshie is a busy recycling/making center and you can hear the rhythm of the hammers, dismantling or making…
Plastic waste in Ghana has become a major social and ecological problem, due to the adverse effects of plastic pollution on both human health and the environment. Especially during periods of flooding, plastic waste chokes the drainage systems of most Ghanaian cities. The need for initiatives to improve sanitation in our community is of great importance. Of the many local waste management companies, only few practice segregation and recycling of waste — and not yet at scale. In the area of plastics recycling, Blowplast recycling is one of the formal organizations which recycles water sachet and black bags in large volumes. What a lot of people do not realize is that plastics recycling in Agbogbloshie is a major activity within the informal sector recycling industry.
Because we are current developing a plastics micro-factory as part of the AMP toolset (one of first prototypes is a mini-kiln for moulding plastic tiles), we continue to work with Agbogbloshie plastics recyclers in order to better understand how the process works now and how it can be improved.
One of the more advanced industrial setups we have come across is located on Abosey Okai Road. Stages in the process flow include sorting, shredding and pelletizing. This micro-factory engages more then 20 youths in Agbogbloshie in full-time employment! The sorted plastics are ground using a milling machine (see picture below) which is connected to a water bath. Shredded plastics are then collected and dried. Finally, the shredded high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are pelletized using an extrusion machine. These pellets — made out of plastic waste from all over Accra — are then sold as feedstock to formal industries both in Ghana and globally that have the capability to produce plastics films.
The existing model of plastics micro-factories in Agbogbloshie deserves support and attention. In effect they perform a massive public service: cleaning up the city of Accra, by making profits from our plastic waste.