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!
Dis-assembly of mobile phones constitute an increasingly significant facet of the e-waste industry here in Agbogbloshie. Metals from these phones form part of the urban mined resource of the city, albeit not as ubiquitous as other equipment such as refrigerators, and microwaves.
As part of the process of making the AMP’s E-manuals, the team with its Agbogbloshie field agents and members of the AMP makers collective (Sam and Iddrisu), disassembled a mobile phone at Agbogbloshie. We made use of the most available tools, (mainly screw drivers owned by the e-waste workers themselves), and carefully took apart the phone, in a manner that preserved each component. We then identified and documented via photographs, each of these. Such hands-on dis-assembly activities enables the team (with diverse backgrounds), to understand better, the nature of the electronics that are in Agbogbloshie.
As it is with other equipment in Agbogbloshie, mobile phones that arrive here are usually in a wide range of conditions. Those in fairly good condition are resold altogether or have their working parts sold to phone repairers(who troop in, in search of such working parts). Those that are in totally bad shape are scraped for constituent metals. It is common to find that, phones arriving here for dis-assembly already have missing parts and/or components such as batteries. According to the e-waste workers, these are sometimes removed by collectors before they reach Agbogbloshie. Some of the most valuable parts of the mobile phones inside Agbogbloshie are the screen and circuit boards. Once these and other parts are removed, they follow the same process as other e-waste and are either sold locally to phone repairers for re-use or to middle-men.
Could Agbogbloshie begin to supply low-cost upcycled computers to children in Old Fadama? Could this scope expand beyond this territory to other parts of Accra and to the under-privileged in Ghana? Could this net expand to cover the entire African continent? Imagine upcycled computers, supplied to all parts of the world from Agbogbloshie. There is a promising future for this and needs to start somewhere.
As part of engaging the Agbogbloshie community and STEAM professionals, AMP organized a ‘maker workshop’ to teach e-waste workers how to make a Jerry and install software on it. After a rainy morning, the AMP team arrived in Agbogbloshie in the afternoon. Most of the work-spaces in the scrap yard were partially flooded. Being Friday, and a majority of the e-waste workers being Muslims, they had just arrived from the Friday afternoon prayers. Since prior arrangements had been made with Sam Sandow (AMP agent in Agbogbloshie) and Zack (E-waste worker), the workshop started in one of the computer shops in Agbogbloshie located near the entertainment center. It is owned and operated by the Nigerian called ”Emeka”. The very same person from which components were sourced for the Jerry workshop in Kokrobite. The shop has shelves on which one would find hard drives, mother boards, circuit boards and many others.
Upon arrival, the team pitched tent and Daniel (AMP intern from creativity group KNUST) briefly introduced the Jerry concept to the community. After we explained the concept to Emeka, a monitor, keyboard and mouse, were made available for us to use. He also gave us a compact disc (CD) with an operating system. The team installed it and allowed the participants to familiarize themselves with the Jerry whilst interactively exchanging ideas with the AMP makers collective.
It’s highly informative and exciting to think that, these same e-waste workers who are among the most marginalized and least literate are actually computer literate- and that some of them are even self-thought. This reveals how much youthful potential is being lost to class stereotyping and the resultant marginalization.
The team later presented the concept of the Quadcoper to the workers by Samuel Amoako (AMP intern and student from KNUST). It was then flown on the football field to demonstrate how it will help AMP map Agbogbloshie and also monitor air pollution levels.
All through history, some of the most fascinating discoveries have come about as a result of conversations between two unlikely parties or people from highly divergent backgrounds who would ordinarily not interact. The creation of a community space where such interaction can happen and spark new genius via the crafting of the ground breaking ideas and objects is one of the central objectives of AMP.
As usual, the workers were busy with their activities: dismantling, loading trucks with scrap metals etc… but some were able to spend time with us and expressed their interest in making one themselves. One of the common questions asked was..whether the plastic will melt when the computer overheats? We answered them by discussing the physical properties of the type of plastic used, such as its melting temperature which is about 130oC and it’s combustion point which is between 340oC to 380oC. Another major concern was the market for the product and the price one should be sold. In effect they appreciated the fact that, parts of old computers can be sourced and used to make a server that works and are cheaper. The AMP team hopes to transfer the knowledge in assembling Jerry computer to making a Jerry Laptop (‘JerryTop’) in the near future.