Summary of What a Scrapyard in Ghana Can Teach Us About Innovation

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What a Scrapyard in Ghana Can Teach Us About Innovation summary
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A scrapyard, the graveyard for society’s devices, may seem like an unlikely place for innovation to flourish, but as designer D.K. Osseo-Asare explains in vivid detail, Ghana’s Agbogbloshie scrapyard is home to savvy “urban miners” who salvage precious parts and materials, tinker with them, and develop something altogether new. Osseo-Asare co-designed a social project that fosters scrapyard innovation and connects supply to demand. getAbstract recommends his story to innovators seeking new sources of inspiration.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What lessons a scrapyard in Ghana imparts about innovation and 
  • How African innovators are trailblazing the circular economy at the grass roots.
 

About the Speaker

D.K. Osseo-Asare, co-founder of Ashesi Design Lab, develops innovation centers in resource-constrained places.

 

Summary

Accra, Ghana’s capital city, is home to the infamous Agbogbloshie scrapyard. The media frequently depict it as a place where scavengers pollute the environment, for example, by burning Styrofoam and rubber tires to salvage parts and metals from used goods. While that does happen, it’s not the whole story. People here engage in “urban mining” to recover parts and metals from discarded goods. Piles of waste are so rich in precious materials that mining a scrapyard is much more lucrative and efficient than mining the earth. The salvagers supply parts and components to the thousands of technicians across the country who tinker with and repair the electronics and sell them as used goods to those who can’t afford new machines. Others remake the deconstructed trash into entirely new creations, such as building materials, pots and welding machines.


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