Agbogbloshie and Formalizing the Supply Chain

Teenage boy dismantles computer servers to recover copper - Ghana, present day. - Imgur

…a scrap yard at the impossibly teeming Agbogbloshie market in Ghana’s capital, mining — along with hundreds of men and boys — for metal wires and parts that can be re-sold and burning the plastic that encases them. Hour after hour, their clanking tools pound apart computers and video game consoles that were discarded in the United States and Europe and shipped here to rot.

Demand drives supply. Supplies diminish. Over time, we recycle not because of altruism, but for profit, and as we melt away from advanced markets, who recycles, and how, expands to include anyone seeking profit. This is the ad-hoc infrastructure provision that fascinates futurists. As your average slum will substantiate, it’s filled with ingenuity, it has to be. It’s humans at work. Little pretense. Social order is organic, not rigorously structured.

For that simple reason, those ad-hoc supply chains will formalize, and the Uber, but for Copper, will have its own app, instead of a kid with a hammer handing it off to a brother in a rickshaw who delivers it to an uncle at the factory.


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