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It's Not All Waste: The Complicated Life of Surplus Electronics In Africa

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the repurposing dept.

The Courts 236

retroworks writes "Today's Science Daily reports on 5 new UN studies of used computer and electronics management in Africa. The studies find that about 85% of surplus electronics imports are reused, not discarded. Most of the goods pictured in 'primitive e-waste' articles were domestically generated and have been in use, or reused, for years. Africa's technology lifecycle for displays is 2-3 times the productive use cycle in OECD nations. Still, EU bans the trade of used technology to Africa, Interpol has describes 'most' African computer importers as 'criminals,' and U.S. bill HR2284 would do the same. Can Africa 'leapfrog' to newer and better tech? Or are geeks and fixers the appropriate technology for 83% of the world (non-OECD's population)? "

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OECD Nations (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39010733)

Obsessive Electronic Compulsive Disorder? You mean Mac users?

Re:OECD Nations (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011051)

Obsessive Electronic Compulsive Disorder? You mean Mac users?

*Uncomfortable silence* *looks around*

I can't believe someone openly made fun of Mac users here on Slashdot - AND got mod'ed up.

When I see sympathetic comments about Microsoft from F/OSS people, I'll start buying $200 bottle Scotch on my credit card, hookers, sports cars, and general debauchery because the World will be at its end.

African solutions to African problems (5, Informative)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011133)

I've worked and lived in several African countries for almost ten years now. I've helped set up computer labs, including one that was self-sufficient with solar panels located way off the grid. There is no shortage of old computer parts, they are shipped in by the cargo container. Much of the parts are broken down to get at their base elements to sell for scrap. I'm sure everyone is aware of footage showing young men ripping apart and melting computer components and poisoning themselves in the process.

I am well aware of charities out there who like to package up used computers and sent them off to Africa, the truth is, the computers are old and mostly useless. It's not that people aren't appreciative, but realistically, setting up a refurbished CPU, monitor, keyboard, powersupply, stabilizer, ect... it takes a lot of work. It also takes maintenance and training. It takes a lot of money to do all this. Furthermore, once a computer lab has been set up, it must be made sustainable, it needs security, someone to look after it. All of this entails an infrastructure of some kind.

This is why, it is very easy to donate computers, or to even set up computer centers and labs, but it is much harder to make them a success within a community.

It's actually much cheaper just to source a brand new dell laptop from a local supplier than to ship in in from half way around the world. Many companies, even a few African one's have localized hardware and special low-cost versions that do not sacrifice much performance and still offer the latest technologies. A low cost laptop/netbook/smartphone uses several MAGNITUDES less electricity than a bigbox cpu. Electricity is the biggest problem, or lack of it. Anyway, the economies of most African nations are growing at 5-10%, there is a lot of money to be made in IT. There are African multimillionaire being made in every African country due to the IT boom

I'm rambling now, but back to the e-waste, it's a huge problem, but on the other hand, if someone were to set up a properly functioning e-waste recycling business and properly employ the young men, give them training, and safety equipment, they could do a lot better for themselves.

Re:African solutions to African problems (0, Troll)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011259)

So are you the local Dell sales rep in one of these countries 'halfway around the world'?

Re:African solutions to African problems (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011543)

Heh no, Dell was just an example. Dell, HP, Samsung, all have a huge presence and a reputation for offering quality hardware though. Granted, the Chinese brands are cheaper, but if people can afford it, they do go for the big name brands.

When surplus electronics are outlawed... (4, Funny)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010741)

...only outlaws will have surplus electronics.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (5, Interesting)

aurispector (530273) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010783)

Africa remains a case study in unintended consequences. Nowhere else is the phrase "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" so pitifully demonstrated.

Western liberal arrogance leads us to condescendingly believe we know what's best for Africans. It's the worst racism of all.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010841)

The world's treatment of Africa has been 99% by greed, not good intentions. My friend was in the Peace Corps and realized partway through he was mainly there to pave the way for oil companies. Or the most despicable "resource" extraction of all, the slave trade. Estimates range from 10 to 28 million lives stolen. Good intentions indeed.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (5, Insightful)

abarrow (117740) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010979)

I've lived, worked and even occasionally traveled there for fun. It seems like everyplace you go, any efforts, by anyone, to move the civilization forward are stymied by a history of internal conflict and corruption. Did European influence help or hurt? Impossible to tell, but it is what it is. In Angola, for example, the nationals decry (and so they should) the terrible oppression of Portuguese - it was a terrible time for them and Portugal should be ashamed of how they treated fellow human beings. But, but, Angolans will also tell you that the day the Portuguese left the infrastructure started to crumble, and hasn't been the same since. The capital city of Luanda looks almost frozen in time (if you don't look too closely at the crumbling brickwork and potholes in the street).

Should the invasion of Africa by Europeans never have happened? Perhaps, but you can't change that now. Saying that external influences are raping the continent is just stupid - the smart countries are taking advantage of their natural resources as they have a right to do. In the case of oil, without exception the national oil company of that country is (actually has to be) a partner in the production, and tax rates are at least 50% on everything that is taken out of the countries. I fail to see how that is disadvantaging anyone.

The same with India (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011127)

...will also tell you that the day the Portuguese left the infrastructure started to crumble, and hasn't been the same since.

When the British left, the same happened to India. The British built some wonderful rail roads and now look at them.

The trouble is that the countries mentioned have identified themselves as victims of Western colonialism and like all who identify themselves as victims are unable to move on.

Although, India seems to be snapping out of it - in my humble Cowardly opinion ....

Re:The same with India (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011501)

Kind of off-topic, but, your analogy with British and Indian railways is misinformed.

1) the network was already crumbling in 1947 when the Indians "inherited" it from the British. Since 1930 the British had abandoned investment in it.

2) India has only increased it's capacity since they took over. In 1947 it was carrying approx. 2 million passengers daily, today 30 million daily (while population has "only" multiplied 4 since independence).

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (2)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011191)

In the case of oil, without exception the national oil company of that country is (actually has to be) a partner in the production, and tax rates are at least 50% on everything that is taken out of the countries. I fail to see how that is disadvantaging anyone.

Oil money built Khadafi some nice palaces didn't it?

The plight of Nauru after a windfall from phosphate mining [cnn.com] perfectly illustrates what happens when resource extraction displaces local industry and culture and then peters out. There is nothing left.

That is not to say Africa or the Middle East would be a paradise without natural resource exports. I agreed with most of your post until perhaps the very end. But I responded to the GP because the notion that Africa's problems are all caused by our well-meaning generosity is just too self-serving and factually incorrect to let go.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (2)

abarrow (117740) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011537)

I agree, corruption and greed (internal and external) has been one of Africa's biggest problems. I'm sure that folks who are into anthropology and ethics have a great deal to study when they think about many African countries. Who's to blame? I'm sure there have been more than a few doctoral thesis written on that subject.

The idea that external influences should be taken away is a little like the the people in the US demanding that some national parks be returned to their natural state: what they don't seem to comprehend is that the "natural state" for these areas included regular burning of brush and culling of animal herds by Native Americans. External influences will always be a part of Africa.

Fun fact or data point: Who do you think is providing some of the most help, labor and engineering to help Africans rebuild their infrastructure? China.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/06/chinas-economic-invasion-of-africa [guardian.co.uk]

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011193)

From what I've heard from TED talks and the like, most African countries don't have a government by/for the people - the colonial power structures *specifically designed* to pillage their resources for the enrichment of those in power never really went away, they just got taken over by the native bigwigs and whitewashed just enough to try to prevent a new revolt. Granted the whitewash tends to gets thicker with each change of power as the new guys try to look like they're an improvement over the old, but that's going to be a long slow road out of corruption.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011203)

But, but, Angolans will also tell you that the day the Portuguese left the infrastructure started to crumble, and hasn't been the same since. The capital city of Luanda looks almost frozen in time (if you don't look too closely at the crumbling brickwork and potholes in the street).

But what have the Romans ever done for us?

Should the invasion of Africa by Europeans never have happened? Perhaps, but you can't change that now.

Perhaps, but it was inevitable. That's what happens to weak nations. Or in this case, a collection of weak nations either fighting one another or at least refusing to help one another. A lesson to all nations, to be sure.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39010857)

So tell us, what do believe is the correct course of action? Leave them all to kill each other over millennia old tribal conflicts? Leave people like Mugabe running the show?

Almost without exception, every African country has slid backwards at an alarming rate since they were granted independence from the European countries who conquered them. It's almost as if they want to be illiterate, sick, poor, violent idiots. Look at South Africa over the past twenty years for a great example: most native South Africans are fleeing as fast as they can, because it's turned from being one the richest African countries to a violent AIDS infested backwater [wikipedia.org] with masses of poor unemployed people who do nothing but rob, kill and rape while the ANC dominated government congratulate themselves on how great things are since whitey left.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010935)

Leave them all to kill each other over millennia old tribal conflicts?

Those millennia old tribal conflicts are rather recent, and spurred on by western companies delivering weapons to local warlords in exchange for free extraction of resources.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011053)

You mean the Hutus & Tutsis actually loved each other until the Belgians arrived?

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011327)

No, but they weren't slaughtering each other.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011347)

In other words 'by any means necessary' only included primative weapons.

I guess the west could have just put up a big fence to 'protect' the Africans. We could have little safari vacations there to observe their quaint ways, or what-not.

No, you're engaging in nostalgia.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011413)

No, I am advocating to not interfere: EVERY time an outsider tries to interfere in another country/region's policies and culture, it went south. If a country/region is ready for change, it will. 'Progress' and Democracy will ONLY come about when the people are ready for it.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (0)

nbauman (624611) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011599)

They weren't killing each other.

It was the Belgians who taught them the European concept of establishing a ruling class like the Europeans did and killing each other like the Protestants and Catholics did.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (5, Insightful)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010883)

Western liberal arrogance

Liberal arrogance?

If there is such a thing a Western arrogance towards Africa it would most likely be from the conservative (stagnant) side of the political spectrum.

Europe has banned the export of any waste to any place, the ban is most certainly not limited to electronics and or Africa.
This ban came into effect after many cases of dumping of dangerous substances with terrible consequences for the receiving countries and people involved.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010955)

Ok, so much the PR, now for reality. As the article said, most of what we export as trash is being reused and recycled. The "terrible consequence" we're fearing most is that we send them resources and even pay them to take them, too. The dumping of dangerous substances is pretty much what happens when they rework our trash and create something useful out of it, and due to less strict environmental laws... well, capitalism at work.

The biggest danger we really fear is that they not only have cheap labour but also a vast array of resources. Once they manage to get both on track, we're, at best, useless.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011085)

Typically, Conservatives aren't the ones who have any views on how Africa should be dealt with - either positive or negative. Theirs is pretty much a hands off approach - perfectly happy to let Africans decide what they want to do in their own countries. It's Liberals who have those grand solutions for the rest of the world.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39010995)

I didn't know arms suppliers, bullying Christian missionaries, trade agreements, and oil companies were "liberal arrogance". Hmmm, news to me.

I'm pretty sure the "worst racism of all" is slavery.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011115)

Which would make the Arabs - who practise it to this day - the worst racists, right? And I thought that mainly Western Conservatives are the ones who happen to be 'Islamophobes'.

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011321)

...only outlaws will have surplus electronics

You're not far off in that. I know it won't be more than a decade or so before houses like mine are roped off because we have so much 'hazardous waste' on premises, in the form of evil lead-bearing equipment. Bring in the overpaid clowns in hazmat suits!

Re:When surplus electronics are outlawed... (4, Interesting)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011523)

...only outlaws will have surplus electronics.

Already done in the U.S. (In my county, at least.)

I was dropping off some scrap metal for recycling at my local landfill and noticed some awesome hardware sitting in the computer dropoff area. So I tossed a couple of cases and a monitor in the back of my truck. The landfill attendant immediately came over and made me put it all back. They must be getting paid for this stuff as scrap and aren't allowed to let the general public walk off with any of it. Even worse, as a resident, I would have to pay per item to drop off anything. So they're double dipping, too.

It was good stuff. Better computers than anything I own. People throw away nice computers just because they load up with malware.

Same with my company. When someone gets a new laptop, the old one is taken away. Years ago, people used to be able to take home old PCs.

Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (2)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010751)

It seems like electronics are used for a shorter time in US than in developing countries
As an example, cell phone(smartphone) lifecycles seem to be 1-2 years for US customers but 2-5 years for the Indian markets
Similarly, you wont find people having an issue with using a 3-4 year old PC built out of reused components as long as it does the work it is intended for
As an example, many cybercafes and print shops still run p4 based desktops, they simply dont need more power

Re:Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39010779)

Sure, they don't need more power, but that old tech eats up power like there's no tomorrow.

Re:Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (4, Informative)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010849)

Even when tilting the balance heavily in the favour of new technology, (say, Atom at idle vs a P4 at medium load), it takes atleast 2 years of 10-12 hours/day running to recover the costs
And my 2 year old N79 lasts 4-5 days on battery, not many Androids can (I know new ones have a lot more features,etc but both accomplish the basic requirement of a phone with the capability to browse the net, take pics, play games, watch videos,etc)

Re:Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011503)

Sure, they don't need more power, but that old tech eats up power like there's no tomorrow.

False. One of my servers is a PIII-S, and hasn't been replaced, not because I can't afford to, or because I don't have time, but because the PIII and that generation of RAM is more power frugal than any server I can get today that can do the same job. It doesn't even use half as much power as my low-power(!) Core 2 9550s server, and comparing it to a Xeon would be ridiculous. It doesn't even have a CPU fan, for cripes sake.

Sure, it's 11 years old. And not ready for recycling yet. It will probably keep on running until Linux and/or gcc drops support for the architecture many years down the road.

The problem is, as others have said, that to use old computers you need an infrastructure for doing so. You can't just take a kid off the street, show him what to do for a specific computer, and expect things to keep running and understand what to do when he meets something his training didn't cover. Those who do set-up and maintenance have to have an understanding, and that's not something you teach in weeks. Western companies can get away with maintaining "legacy" systems because for every N tech support people, they also have an engineer and a sysadmin. Those are few and far between in the third world, but without them, you can't do more than routine jobs. Recycling a constantly changing input of someone else's garbage isn't routine - at best you can identify known components and trash all the real gems because you don't know what they are or what to do with them.

Re:Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (3, Insightful)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010827)

A good example is the present Slashdot poll about 3D TV, I don't have 3D (nor HD) and is primarily because my present 10 y/o flat screen works fine and I won't buy a new TV till the old one has given up.

The poll options given imply you'd buy an other TV just for the sake of some new and still to be proven tech.

Re:Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (1)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010891)

yeah i think this a key point that a lot of the 3D haters miss. The reason home 3d isn't taking off is not because people don't want it or have a phobia about wearing glasses in front of the TV. The reason is that so many of us spent a crap load of money on a new lcd/led/plasma/DLP in the last few years and those expensive TV's are still fully functional. The TV industry seems to think their product is on a cell phone like upgrade cycle. Sorry guys, I spent $2500 on a 65" DLP maybe 6 years ago and it still looks great. No problems but a worn out bulb about 4 years in (user replaceable thanks). When it dies, i'll get something with 3d for two reasons. 1) Why not? 2) They all come with 3d anyway.

Re:Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (0)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010929)

Sorry guys, I spent $2500 on a 65" DLP maybe 6 years ago and it still looks great.

I'd never consider spending that much money (or even half of that) for a TV.

Re:Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011031)

Sorry guys, I spent $2500 on a 65" DLP maybe 6 years ago and it still looks great.

I'd never consider spending that much money (or even half of that) for a TV.

Well then you are lucky you dont stay in India. a 46 inch LCD TV costs the equivalent of USD 1200, and thats not adjusting for PPP,etc. just a direct currency conversion

Re:Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (0)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011097)

Sorry guys, I spent $2500 on a 65" DLP maybe 6 years ago and it still looks great.

I'd never consider spending that much money (or even half of that) for a TV.

Well then you are lucky you dont stay in India. a 46 inch LCD TV costs the equivalent of USD 1200, and thats not adjusting for PPP,etc. just a direct currency conversion

Who needs a 46 inch TV? I certainly don't.

Re:Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011131)

The image of USA and Europe (or simply the developed world) that the rest of the world gets is that stuff like big TV's, big houses,big fridges,big AC's,etc are common and affordable at the lower middle class level as well.
Is that false?

Re:Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011221)

Well, if I really wanted, I definitely could afford a large TV. But I don't see why I should waste my money on it.
A big house? I don't see how I could afford that (well, if I'd go to some unattractive region, maybe; or maybe not, because there I'd probably not find work).
Big fridges? Well, that's mostly an American thing anyway.
Big AC? Well, I have no idea what an AC costs; I'm more concerned about heating prices :-)

Re:Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (4, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011645)

The image of USA and Europe (or simply the developed world) that the rest of the world gets is that stuff like big TV's, big houses,big fridges,big AC's,etc are common and affordable at the lower middle class level as well.
Is that false?

Yes, this is false. The median income of a household member in the US in 2006 was $26,036. This doesn't leave a lot for luxuries. And that's median. If you considerer "lower middle class" to be around the 33th percentile, the income per household member drops to less than $14,000 per year.
So no, expensive plasma TVs are not common outside bars and the homes of the more affluent.

Yes, most people have TVs and even cable TV, because they'd sacrifice a lot to have that. Even if it was bought at a thrift store. They're conditioned to having them. But the majority of TVs in the US are 4:3 CRTs. For those who can't afford cable, with a converter for digital->analog broadcast.

If you want to see a 3rd world country, come to the US, and visit the 80% of it that still doesn't have cell phone coverage, or the east side towns where people live from hand to mouth. It's a quite different picture frow what Hollywood and Fox shows.

Re:Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (1)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011195)

well, we were replacing an older 65" and the wife refused to go smaller. at the time, the options were plasma and lcd . one was 2x-3x more expensive and the other wasn't even available that large. I forget which was which. So it was a relative bargain. Anyway, we bought it with the expectation of keeping it for 8 to 10 years at least, so over that much time, it's not so expensive, especially considering how much we've enjoyed it. we watch a lot of movies, so i consider it money saved from $15 theater tickets and $5 soft drinks.

Re:Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (1)

LinuxIsGarbage (1658307) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010961)

As an example, many cybercafes and print shops still run p4 based desktops, they simply dont need more power

The public library near me still runs desktops with AthlonXP (or something), 256MB RAM, and Windows 2000. My own computer is 4.5 years old, and I'll keep using it till it gives out. As compared to years past, it really isn't that far out of date.

some systems from that time have bad caps (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011057)

some systems from that time have bad caps even more so the P4 systems.

Re:some systems from that time have bad caps (3, Informative)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011077)

So, just change the capacitors as they blow

Re:Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011441)

The public library near me still runs desktops with AthlonXP (or something), 256MB RAM, and Windows 2000. My own computer is 4.5 years old, and I'll keep using it till it gives out. As compared to years past, it really isn't that far out of date.

Mine's an Athlon XP 2100+, and somewhat older than that. I'm considering replacing it, but mainly because nVidia have dropped support for the graphics card and Nouveau is unstable as hell (and this is a lesson I have learnt from and will never buy nVidia hardware again - if it doesn't have an open driver I don't want to know about it).

Notably, the 2 things that I notice it being too slow for are:
  - Playing Vimeo videos... I have no clue how they made their player so damned inefficient, but I get about 2 frames per second in a tiny box in the browser. Meanwhile, mplayer will happilly play 1080p H.264 content just fine on the same hardware.
  - Various over-Javascriptified websites. Anything with rotating fadey background images causes my machine to grind to a halt. Google maps has recently changed their javascript so it animates the map zooming in/out instead of just redrawing at the new zoom level and this renderes Google Maps a bit useless (whatever happened to "degrade gracefully"?).

For actual work, the machine is perfectly fast enough and I'd see no reason to upgrade if the hardware was still well supported.

Re:Electronics lifecycles seem to be shorter in US (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011167)

Most Africans use their phone to access email, twitter, SMS info, this does not require the latest hardware. There are African versions of Android/Nokia/samsung phones that aim to maximize cost and battery life. One can buy a decent smart phone for under $100 for example. The cheapest Nokia phones that can access the internet cost around $30.

Overdose (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39010763)

So Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston have overdosed? This is a direct effect of the white man's war against the brown man. Republicans continue to let drugs into this country in defiance of Obama's plan to uplift this nation. They want guns and drugs on the streets. We know for a fact that the guns being used in the drug wars are sold by Americans to drug cartels and the Republicans are letting these avenues of gun running open on purpose. The lack of common sense drug laws are also a problem of Republican dickering. These conservative religious bigots are the ones keeping this prohibition alive. Romney would have you sent to a re-education camp for smoking a little weed, if he could. Are you going to stand by and let this happen?
 
Obama 2012! Vote out the Republicans who've been holding up this nation's progress for the past 12 years.

Re:Overdose (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39010793)

Sounds just like the uninformed, illogical drivel of a person that would vote for Obama. How'd all that change work out for you?

Re:Overdose (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39010809)

Don't feed the trolls on Slashdot.

Re:Overdose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39010835)

As evidenced by Republican Eric Holder's "Fast & Furious" program. Thanks for the change!

Reuse is good, proper disposal is important (4, Insightful)

Katatsumuri (1137173) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010819)

Used hardware is excellent value when you are on a shoestring budget. I think a lot of school kids and students in Africa would find it attractive. Yes, there are new tablets and notebooks available today starting near $100. But even that is a lot of money to some, and used tech can often be had for free, or the cost of shipping. Also, arguably you can often get much better used hardware for the same money. And tinkering with it also trains people to be hackers and know their hardware well. So, overall I think such reuse is good.

A huge disadvantage is the environment damage when that hardware finally gets thrown away. Normal western schemes like including recycling in the price and handling it through dealers and agencies is hardly applicable here. There has to be direct financial incentive for both the old hardware owner and the recycling center to handle this properly. So maybe if EU really wants to help, they should try to organize a network of recycling shops. But this is probably more difficult than simply banning the export officially and ignoring the black market.

Re:Reuse is good, proper disposal is important (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010949)

Actually AFAIK the only thing banned from export is non-working stuff (i.e. waste). Working used stuff can be exported just fine.

Re:Reuse is good, proper disposal is important (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011087)

Even woth non working stuff, its often feasible to repair it easily, or cannibalise components from 2-3 devices to make a complete device.
5 laptops with a different part failed in each can be converted into 4 functional laptops after all

Re:Reuse is good, proper disposal is important (3, Informative)

Katatsumuri (1137173) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011157)

Yes, I was fooled by the slashdot summary (yeah, yeah), which said "EU bans the trade of used technology to Africa".

Some sources for those interested in the actual legislation:

Summaries of legislation: Waste electrical and electronic equipment [europa.eu]
"The European Union (EU) is taking measures to prevent the generation of electrical and electronic waste and to promote reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery in order to reduce the quantity of such waste to be eliminated, whilst also improving the environmental performance of economic operators involved in its management."

Business Link: Exporting WEEE [businesslink.gov.uk]
"You should export waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) only if you are sure that it will be recovered or recycled safely in the receiving country."

So yes, exporting old hardware for reuse is okay. My apologies to EU.

Re:Reuse is good, proper disposal is important (2)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011037)

A huge disadvantage is the environment damage when that hardware finally gets thrown away.

If I'm not mistaken, much (if not most) of the environmental damage results from the initial production of electronic equipment. With that fixed cost, it's simply good to keep equipment in service as long as possible - regardless who does that.

Another big cost is that of running the equipment, that is: energy use (mostly, other factors might be repairs / transport / consumables). For a while PC's have gotten increasingly power-hungry (CPU's up to 100W+ TDP, actively cooled videocards etc), so an older PC might be more economical to run. But that trend seems to be reversing, huge 500W+ gaming rigs have become a niche market, people are moving to (lower-power) laptops, small formfactor systems, tablets, netbooks etc. So if you're looking to cut the long-term cost of running the gear, it might make sense to skip that power-hungry stuff even if it gets thrown in your lap. Same thing for LCD screens - give it a few years of use, and an LCD screen might have lower overall cost than a 'free' same-sized CRT. Even when you're buying in Africa.

Lastly, let's not forget that prices for new hardware have been dropping continuous. The technology race-to-the-bottom has produced some very cheap devices that may seem underpowered in many westerner's eyes, but are enough to get online or use in countless other applications.

So there's a sweet spot, just assuming "used = cheap" is skipping your homework. To know how cheap, you have to do the math.

Local Cost (3, Informative)

CambodiaSam (1153015) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010829)

I've seen Cambodia's IT infrastructure improve over the last several years, but they still rely on much older, used equipment as their primary source of hardware. The most basic factor is cost. For someone earning about $100 a month (generally considered middle-class and able to reasonably sustain a small family), the prospect of a brand new computer, phone, or other device is unthinkable. Even a PC setup with monitor, UPS, keyboard, and mouse will run you $250. It'll be about 4 years old, but it runs Windows XP or Vista quite well because of lack of service packs. Plus, it's fully loaded with software since the concept of copyright hasn't been fully embraced.

I guess if you could bring low cost, reasonable electronics to the developing world they would embrace it instead of used equipment. I'll let you know when I see it for sale on the streets of Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. For now, it's all used PCs (mostly Dell and HP) and Nokia phones.

85% of what? 1,000,000 tons. (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010837)

That 15% can still do a huge amount of damage. We should be focusing on making all electronics easily recyclable, setting up clean recycling facilities in Africa or wherever, and creating long-term storage for the rest. Oh yes, and write better software so upgrades are minimal.

That 15% is still a huge problem, IMO.

This Should Be No Surprise (5, Interesting)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010865)

The big manufacturers like Dell have been trumping up the 'eWaste' issue for years now. They do it to make sure they yank all the old hardware out of the secondary (used) market where it inteferes with new equipment sales.

My local situation is typical. We don't (yet) have to pay a 'disposal fee' to get rid of the 'untouchable' evil-awful old computer equipment, but the local Goodwill is the place-of-choice to donate them to. And Dell has a 'bounty' deal going with Goodwill, to pull all PeeCees out of the donation stream and never, EVER put them out for resale.

A lot of us got our start playing around with Linux on multiple PCs (networking) using castoff PCs that there are agents now actively making sure are not 'just lying around' for us to fool with. It's quite possible that a lot of that wouldn't happen in today's environment.

Re:This Should Be No Surprise (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011189)

What are you talking about? If Dell actually does what you claim, I'd consider that 'evil', but even so that doesn't put a dent in the 2nd hand market. In most western countries the disposable income vs. cost of new gear is what drives a short equipment life cycle, not some evil corp pulling 2nd hand gear from the market.

As a fellow geek / tinkerer I'm limited by time, (physical) storage space, and plain desire to mess with old equipment. But obtaining old gear is like the easiest thing in the world. Yeah you might have to be patient to find exactly what you want, but cost / availability of 2nd hand gear is a non-issue. There's mountains of it, take your pick.

Re:This Should Be No Surprise (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011285)

The DVD-R drive that I presently use is one I culled out of a curbside PC that I found locally. Most notably, it was not one that I located at a thrift store or any retail outlet in my local area. There are NO stores anymore that sell used PC hardware, aside from a few boutique places that dress them up at heavy mark-up prices.

I suspect my area is not alone in this. The thrifts don't sell used PCs, and it's specifically because Dell doesn't want them selling used PCs. Nor Microsoft. Ya know who I mean... that big company that gets NOTHING if a household re-uses a copy of Windows or (the horror!) puts Linux on a used box instead of buying a new PC with Windows on it.

If there are 'mountains of it' why do we have to 'be patient' to acquire what we want? No, there's an active campaign to remove used hardware by new hardware vendors.

Re:This Should Be No Surprise (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011301)

I just want to tack on because I didn't make it clear enough in previous comment. It was a RARE event locally for me to find the curbside PC to cull the DVD-R drive out of.

Westerns wanna plantations of PCs on Africa. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011519)

JCPM: it maybe be an ancient african myth: The faith moves mountains. And a new generation of africans had born: the african developers dedicated to the e-waste of reused PCs for plantations on their lands for another interesting purposes profitable for themselves! (for making more difficult the tasks of the foreign treasurehunters before of being overexploited their natural resources).

Re:This Should Be No Surprise (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011607)

I had to research this to debunk/prove this for myself. Yes, Dell and Goodwill Industries have set up a partnership to arrange for the collection for second-hand PC's:

Goodwill Expansion [dell.com]

Individuals who drop off their computer equipment at participating ReConnect locations receive a tax receipt, regardless of the brand and condition of the equipment. Consumers are responsible for removing all personal data prior to donation. Donated equipment meeting Reconnect’s criteria will be resold, and devices in need of repair will either be refurbished or broken down into parts to be recycled by Dell partners.

Re:This Should Be No Surprise (1)

rock_climbing_guy (630276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011427)

That's too bad for Goodwill. For what it's worth, the local pawnbrokers here in my neck of the woods all deal in used PCs, so if you're feeling charitable, you could sell your old PC to a pawnbroker and donate the proceeds to charity.

Why is export illegal? (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010869)

I'm having a hard time understanding why the EU would want to forbid the export of used electronics to Africa. Are they afraid they are just going to get dumped there? It would seem to me that it would be beneficial to send any type of used electronics there (given that they aren't more that a few years old and in working order). Not only would it provide affordable and useable technology, it would assist in education,as well as provide jobs in that locals would need to learn how to maintain them. As more and more people become familiar with and use these electronics on a daily basis, they may start producing their own designs, products, or services that are intended for local use, bolstering the economy. Better economy=more stable state. More stable states=more stable region. More stable region=fewer immigrants (a big concern for the EU) and a reduced need for military interventions. A win-win for everyone.

Re:Why is export illegal? (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010951)

Regretfully the corrupt world of waste trafficking has made it impossible to have a sustainable trade in used electronics with African countries.
There are many examples where the parts were disassembled in totally unsafe conditions and often involving child labour with the waste being dumped on the road side just out of town.

Properly disassembling old electronics is an art that requires large up front investments that are never going to happen in Africa.
Africa has enough electronics waste of their own without getting the western equipment also piled onto them.

From an economic perspective there is again little to gain by using previous generation equipment, when that stuff becomes uneconomical in a Western setting it's most likely uneconomical in Africa.

Re:Why is export illegal? (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011325)

From an economic perspective there is again little to gain by using previous generation equipment, when that stuff becomes uneconomical in a Western setting it's most likely uneconomical in Africa.

African setting != western setting. And African nation A != African nation B.

From an economical perspective, I'd regard e-waste as a resource of more & less precious raw materials. To obtain some metals (like copper), it's probably a lot cheaper to recycle some tonnes of e-waste, than to buy earth-moving machinery & process many tonnes of dirt + copper ore. If present in that country at all.

So the sensible thing to do would be to invest in large-scale, efficient recycling plants. To keep those 12y old kids from burning a pile of wires in the open. Of course this would also require an effective, smart government that has the general public's interest in mind. There are exceptions, but unfortunately that's a big "if" in many African nations. And unless that changes, those places will keep being used as an e-waste dumping ground. Which makes western export restrictions a good thing in many cases.

Re:Why is export illegal? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010963)

I'm having a hard time understanding why the EU would want to forbid the export of used electronics to Africa.

As far as I know, only non-working stuff (aka waste) is forbidden to export. If it works, you may export it. Of course, non-working stuff which could be repaired is still non-working stuff.

As bad as the *AA consortiums (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39010877)

Ban the sale of reusable goods to countries fully capable of using them and force them to buy new stuff they cannot afford. This whole planet's gone mad, I tells ya', MAD.

I'm beginning to regret knowing my grandparents. They taught me to fix what could be fixed and only replace what you finally cannot fix. I'm writing this on an old CRT monitor that a friend gave me because the image was getting too dark. I did a little research, found that changing out a single resistor would brighten up the image for another ten years or so and it's still working. Meanwhile, he's using a "new" LCD monitor that's starting to suffer pixel dropouts as it ages. When the power supply fan bearings get noisy, I replace the fan in the power supply. I've even replaced capacitors on motherboards and in power supplies rather than replace the whole unit.

God, I hate using this term but if that isn't being green I don't know what is. In the old days it wasn't called being green. It was called being frugal (or, if you weren't Scottish in background, being cheap. :-)

(I'm in Canada, btw, not Africa.)

Re:As bad as the *AA consortiums (2)

sidthegeek (626567) | more than 2 years ago | (#39010959)

It's not necessarily more environmentally-friendly. Your older equipment probably uses more electricity than newer equipment, which is the main reason/argument in developed countries for ditching it and just buying new. Older equipment is so cheap the cost is close to $0 in some cases (dumpster diving, I'm looking at you), so it's more convenient to use older equipment, especially when its performance can be really boosted (replacing Win95/98 on '90s to 2000s whiteboxes with some Linux or another).

I still have an old CRT that I want to start using again. The picture's a little fuzzy now, but it should be great for text mode.)

Re:As bad as the *AA consortiums (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011205)

Sure, the newer stuff is more energy efficient WHEN ITS IN USE... Are there real benefits to changing over when you factor in the energy needed to make the new stuff, ship it to the consumers and dispose of the old stuff? On a certain time scale maybe, but somehow I doubt its better to have Foxconn make an iPad for everybody in Africa and pitch all their old crap than it is for people to fix and re use things.

Re:As bad as the *AA consortiums (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011335)

Of course, you have to take into account the energy wasted to *produce* your new equipment... it doesn't appear out of the blue, y'know.

Please do visit Africa sometime (4, Insightful)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011213)

Ban the sale of reusable goods to countries fully capable of using them and force them to buy new stuff they cannot afford. This whole planet's gone mad, I tells ya', MAD.

I'm beginning to regret knowing my grandparents. They taught me to fix what could be fixed and only replace what you finally cannot fix. I'm writing this on an old CRT monitor that a friend gave me because the image was getting too dark. I did a little research, found that changing out a single resistor would brighten up the image for another ten years or so and it's still working. Meanwhile, he's using a "new" LCD monitor that's starting to suffer pixel dropouts as it ages. When the power supply fan bearings get noisy, I replace the fan in the power supply. I've even replaced capacitors on motherboards and in power supplies rather than replace the whole unit.

God, I hate using this term but if that isn't being green I don't know what is. In the old days it wasn't called being green. It was called being frugal (or, if you weren't Scottish in background, being cheap. :-)

(I'm in Canada, btw, not Africa.)

My guess is you have never seen how ewaste is 'recycled'; picture pre-teenage boys using the crudest tools (or their bare hands) to rip apart electronics, including monitors (that are chockful of cancer causing agents), pound the pieces into powder, then melt them down in makeshift smelters (no masks here, just breath in the fumes), then cook out the chemical elements. Most of these kids have brain damage from exposure. Most will get cancer and die painful deaths. Lets also not forget that while they surely get paid something for their labor, in all likelihood they are virtual child slaves. My guess is your sensibilities make you incapable of imagining the abject horror of their existence.

Some perspective on the reality of the situation would be advised.

Re:Please do visit Africa sometime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011345)

"including monitors (that are chockful of cancer causing agents), "

No. No they aren't.

Re:Please do visit Africa sometime (1, Troll)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011591)

It's not like they had bright futures until they were pulled out of med school to become e-waste slaves.

Re:As bad as the *AA consortiums (2)

Hamsterdan (815291) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011241)

*When the power supply fan bearings get noisy, I replace the fan in the power supply. I've even replaced capacitors on motherboards and in power supplies rather than replace the whole unit.*

That's _exactly_ what I try to do here. When my old computer died and couldn't be repaired, I salvaged an old Optiplex, recapped it and I'm typing this message on it. Cost about 5-10$ in caps and about an hour to take the mobo out, recap and put everything back in. My Media Center is starting to act up, so it will get recapped soon. Found a vintage '70s chrome lamp (really, really nice lamp) that just needed a little love and its plug replaced. It's now sitting gloriously in my living room.

I too have been brought up with the repair-it mentality. If it can be reused or repaired, do it. A very large number of electronics from the '90s and 2ks simply fail due to cheap capacitors. Why is it a 2005 motherboard has to have its capacitors replaced while my old NES and C64 still work fine? My 1994 receiver also has issues while a 1973 receiver still works fine...

   

Re:As bad as the *AA consortiums (2)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011601)

A very large number of electronics from the '90s and 2ks simply fail due to cheap capacitors. Why is it a 2005 motherboard has to have its capacitors replaced while my old NES and C64 still work fine? My 1994 receiver also has issues while a 1973 receiver still works fine...

It's crazy how true that is. During the last 10 years, "have you checked the caps" has become the standard electronics answer, and so often it actually is the source of failure.

Re:As bad as the *AA consortiums (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011597)

Ban the sale of reusable goods to countries fully capable of using them and force them to buy new stuff they cannot afford.)

I suspect part of this effort stems from the corporate push for the centralization of personal computing in western countries (aka "The Cloud"). If the goal is to take private general computing away from the masses by having us "upgrade" to always-connected, centrally-dependent CPU & storage, then the last thing they want is to have the (discarded) current collection of powerful desktops exported to developing nations (which will undoubtedly extend their use much, much further, out of necessity).

More insane liberal bullshit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39010923)

"Can Africa 'leapfrog' to newer and better tech?"

Translated:

"Can Africa STEAL some more technology from white people and pretend they are just as intelligent as us?"

The average IQ of African countries is around SEVENTY.

Any comments?

Re:More insane liberal bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011121)

I can not believe that, i do not see why ratio of people with IQ>100 and IQ100 should be any different in Africa VS Asia/Europe, are you sure it is not just lack of education? as for stealing, it is NOT stealing if we give it to them willingly

Re:More insane liberal bullshit (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011245)

The average IQ of African countries is around SEVENTY.

Any comments?

Yes: That makes it exactly TEN POINTS higher than the median Slashdot commenter. Now prove me wrong.

2 months in Africa that changed me (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39010931)

I spent 2 months in Swaziland, Africa in 2005 with some missionaries there. It was shocking how expensive new tech was there (3-10x more than USA). Internet in the entire country was 28.8 dialup to a geosync satellite backhaul to Johannesburg. My missionary friend's internet + cell phone bill was in the neighborhood of $500.

I knew it was bad before I left so I downloaded as many security/OS/application updates and free applications and took them with me. I spent a good bit of time just going around to missionary, pastor, and college computers installing service packs, Windows updates, antivirus, etc because they were YEARS out of date.

The best PC I saw was about 1/2 the spec of the $1200 laptop I took with me, and once when we needed to burn a dual layer DVD, I found only one vendor with one model that was incompatible with my laptop's burner. They had so many computers that were 1-2 generations old that I was in shock. And they were desperate for more. One Swazi came up to me begging to get a 286 laptop working. I tried but there was nothing I could do. The college had some spare parts and wanted me to build a PC from them. In the process I discovered old Dells (dunno about new ones) required proprietary power supplies, and so I had a perfectly good Pentium 4 that was unusable other than a dead p/s I couldn't replace in Africa. So instead, I was able to get a 386 or 486 running with a 3GB hard drive but it wouldn't fit in the Dell case. They were so desperate for it to run that they had a missionary build a case out of wood so I could install the motherboard into it and have another computer for the students.

The whole time all I could think was that I had thrown away computer stuff that was so much better than this that it was embarrassing. If only I was back in the US, a $50-100 PC would blow away pretty much any tech I saw in the hands of a regular African. I'm shocked at the subject of this article... African people do realize the huge educational/connectivity/jobs divide that is only growing and want desperately to catch up. What is needed is a way to make it easier/cheaper to send old tech to Africa... not harder! They have to start somewhere, and this also keeps it out of the landfill that much longer.

Re:2 months in Africa that changed me (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011001)

Part of the reason why Africa is so fucked up is because Mormon(or other cult) assholes like you are trying to shove your religion and culture up their asses. Such arrogance.

Re:2 months in Africa that changed me (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011309)

Part of the reason why Africa is so fucked up is because Mormon(or other cult) assholes like you are trying to shove your religion and culture up their asses. Such arrogance.

Yes....people like my girlfriend's mother who went to Africa and handed out months supplies worth of prenatal vitamins are what's screwing up Africa....

Re:2 months in Africa that changed me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011337)

She should have handed out RU-486 and condoms instead. Is forcing somebody to be born into a savage life of pain, famine, and squalor really respecting the sanctity of life? I think not.

-- Same AC

Environmentalists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39010937)

Hey these are environmentalists wanting these sorts of laws. They could care less about the needs of the Third World poor. They want the rest of us to sit in the dark and cold while they jet-set to exotic locales.

Criminals? Wrong! Not a crime!. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011009)

JCPM: criminals? what crime did they commit? (in the ancient history, some israelites did prohibit to canaanites to sell certain things that were built, so that, some israelites are out of the divine authority when did forbid to anothers to do things except israeilites, obviously, much racist and zionist were)

Re:Criminals? Wrong! Not a crime!. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011273)

JCPM: and the treasurehunters will be in trouble when inspecting all Africa through their technological satellites, due to the presence of many PCs everywhere.

Linux? (2)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011063)

Why doesn't Linux own the desktop in Africa - Or does it? I would figure a FreeAsInBeer OS would be ideal for developing nations? Why don't we hear about millions of Linux desktops in Africa?

Re:Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011129)

Why doesn't Linux own the desktop in Africa - Or does it? I would figure a FreeAsInBeer OS would be ideal for developing nations? Why don't we hear about millions of Linux desktops in Africa?

I'm not so certain that licensing of the OS is the big roadblock for getting working PC's in the country. It may be a problem if they had enough boxes to actually make MS take notice, but I think the root issues here run a lot deeper than saving a few bucks on the OS in a country where shelter, food and water are constant concerns.

Re:Linux? (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011169)

Why doesn't Linux own the desktop in Africa

Is this a serious question?

Re:Linux? (1)

Lije Baley (88936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011643)

Linux on the desktop? I suppose it's possible...

this is nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011069)

compared to the Pacific Garbage Patch

Medical Equipment (1)

Guppy (12314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011125)

Supposedly, there's a similar issue with used medical equipment and supplies. I've heard of charitable donations getting into trouble because it was considered to be illegal export of medical waste.

with 3d printing it will be irrelevant (4, Informative)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011183)

as soon as we can print out our own chips, none of this will matter.

you know the 'Arab Spring'? Well, most of it was in Africa. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya - all African countries. The guy who started Ubuntu? African. These folks are on the forefront of tech, they just have been barred from access to capital by corruption.

Re:with 3d printing it will be irrelevant (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39011253)

Mod up! Those who blame colonialism are in the past. African solutions for Africa is where its at.

Re:with 3d printing it will be irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011299)

The guy who started Ubuntu is a millionare. And a white guy.

ho8o (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011255)

from th3 5idelines,

Dammit! They have computers in their huts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39011355)

Thus soiling our image of them as noble savages living in mud huts without electricity living in harmony with mother earth. Well, we will have to put a stop to that by banning the imports of used computers. If the want to buy a computer they need to buy one brand new which we know won't happen. Computers need electricity and we certainly don't want them having electricity. Think of all the fossil fuels they might use. The supply of computers will dry up and once again we will make sure the african people are free of technology and will be unable to develop their countries and better educate their population. Remember the continent of Africa is to remain desolate and impoverished to assuage the guilt us white westerners feel for developing our lands and having prosperous nations.

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