Innovate Africa

Africa’s e-waste revolution: Community active

From recycling with cycles to using waste to build cheap computers, meet the young social entrepreneurs changing Africa.

One of the most promising aspects of new technology is the opportunties it provides to young social entrepreneurs across the African continent. 

The Woelab in Lome, Togo’s capital city, is a place dedicated to “the democracy of technology”.

Woelab consists of 15 people who teach technology, encourage innovation and believe that every person should have access to technological opportunities. One of the first people to work there, Sam Kodo was recently nominated for a prestigious Anzisha prize, an award recognising innovation and entrepreneurial skill. Sam invented a small, very affordable computer that will enable young people with limited income to own their own PC’s.

One of Woelabs most popular innovations is the Jerry, a computer made from a Jerrycan and recycled objects like hard drives, used mother boards and other unwanted e-waste.

In Lagos, the problem of urban waste is growing. Billikiss Adebiyi, who previously worked in IT, believed that she needed to actively create change in order to improve living conditions. Based on the fact that most people in these areas have mobile phones, she believed that the answer lay in finding a way of integrating this communication tool with a waste management system.

Her company, Wecycle, uses a fleet of low-cost cargo bicycles to offer convenient household recycling service in densely populated low-income neighborhoods. Users sms the Wecycle number and their trash is collected. Their call enters them into competitions to win small, donated prizes. 

RLabs is an organisation that began in the dangerous ganglands of the Cape Flats in Cape Town, South Africa. Marlon Parker started Rlabs, places that empower communities through teaching technology. All the classes or “labs” are free.