Soulskill from the do-not-try-this-at-home dept.
retroworks writes "According to this UK MailOnline story, computers donated to Africa are causing quite a few problems. The BBC does a similar story on the junk computers from rich countries found on the ground in Africa. But all of the footage is of the junk PCs; there is no film of any repaired or good computers. There have been a dozen stories now about the bad apples. It seems like there have to be good ones, too, to cover the costs of shipping. Some of the ones in the Mail story actually look decent. Is there more balanced coverage of used computer exports, many of which provide affordable technology to poor people? Organizations like Greenpeace and Basel Action Network are promoting electronics recyclers with zero-export policies. One organization, the World Reuse Repair and Recycling Association, is promoting a 'Fair Trade Coffee' approach to moderate the number of bad computers exported, and has a video showing both sides of the story. A ban on exports leaves Africa with a choice of spending a year's income on a new PC, buying mixed loads of computers from undercapitalized recyclers, or remaining without this level of technology. And our choice seems to be to donate a decent computer mixed with other people's junk, or to grind it up in a perverse tribute to Vance Packard, as 'obsolescence in hindsight.'"
The perversity of nature is nowhere better demonstrated by the fact that, when
exposed to the same atmosphere, bread becomes hard while crackers become soft.