Technology has boomed into a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide, providing jobs and better access to tools like education.
In Africa about 3 people in 1,000 have access to a computer, versus about 1 in 40 people on average worldwide.
The numbers are looking to go up in Africa, as innovators in the region are beginning to find ways to build their own computers, and use e-waste to bring the continent into the digital age.
E-Waste and Donations
Despite having little or no access to modern technology, Africa certainly has quite a bit of the e-waste from developed countries lying around.
It is estimated that at least 41 million tonnes of electronic waste is dumped in Africa each year. Recycling, while the environmentally sound choice, is not the cheapest.
It is much less expensive for companies to simply dump the toxic waste of wealthier countries into Africa under the guise of sending usable products to help the developing world. While there are some reputable nonprofits that do amazing work, much of the time, all that is given is waste rather than operational machines.
Making Functional Computers out of E-Waste
Ghana is one of the many West African nations plagued by e-waste. However, one innovator, Kodjo Afate Gnikou, has started to use his country’s plague of e-waste to
However, one innovator, Kodjo Afate Gnikou, has started to use his country’s plague of e-waste to build computers from scratch and turn the situation into a benefit for his fellow-citizens. By sifting through the discarded remains of the
By sifting through the discarded remains of the industrialized world’s electronics to find components that still work, Kodjo has found a way to provide operational computers. They may not be the fanciest machines out there, as they are housed in vessels normally meant to contain liquid, but they still do the job. And the news gets even better; the computers Kodjo makes, with help from a team at WoeLab, called W.Jies, are sold for around $100 USD. This is much less than the price of a new laptop available in Ghana, which can run from about $620 USD.
Continuing the Trend
Sam Kodo, an innovator from Togo, has taken a slightly different approach to computer building. After Building his first robot at the age of 7, there was no stopping his continuing education into electronics. However, as Kodo continued his studies, he too began to notice the difficulty other students had in obtaining equipment for their education and jobs because of economic constraints. This lead him to co-found Loop/LC-COM. The company manufactures small, pocket-sized computers available for sale at around $100 USD.
Although these are only two instances of African innovators tackling technological issues in Africa, it could very well be the beginning of something big for Africa’s digital industry.