Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP)

LOCATION: Ghana

SUMMARY: Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform is a transnational STEAM*-powered, intercultural/interclass stellate design initiative to transform the materials processing and recycling zone of Agbogbloshie scrapyard typified in global media as the world's biggest e-waste dump meme into a human-spatial network for distributed manufacturing and digital fabrication to drive a global circular economy.

PROBLEM SPACE: "Agbogbloshie scrapyard, located at Old Fadama in the heart of Accra, Ghana is a highly polluted oceanfront site that symbolizes the problem of planned obsolescence: In a span of decades, small-scale processing activities occurrent at the site have in aggregate transformed a once-lush wetland into an environmental disaster. This highlights the negative impact to humans and environment from end-of-life (EOL) products and equipment, when improper scrap or recycling processes release toxic and hazardous materials from Waste Electrical or Electronic Equipment (WEEE, e-waste or e-scrap).

Today technology threatens to outsmart humanity: Now that mobile telephony has ephemeralized communications through geo-positioned satellites and transcontinental networks to handheld internet-enable smartphones, the exponential expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) linking connected homes, autonomous automobiles, wearable computers and a growing web of embedded sensors to form so-called smart cities at an ever-vaster scale and accelerating rate - it is critical to note that this explosion of smart objects (devices with embedded chips, sensors, circuitry and internet connectivity) translates to a dramatic increase in the scale and distribution of electronic materials across the globe orders of magnitude more numbers of electronic devices per person than in a regime of only one phone or computer per person. ""Presently, a core failure of human socioeconomic structuring is corporate inculpability from responsibility for the human social and environmental impact of materials they extract from the earth, together with associated pressures on human rights and planetary ecology linked to the value chain of extraction, production, distribution and recycling EOL products and equipment, including ultimately all objects of human ingenuity and manufacturing capability.

At the same time, the informal sector "scrap dealer" trade exists because it is a viable means to make money, and people lack access to better opportunities for safe and fulfilling work, with income-generation sufficient to sustain themselves and their families.

Environmental pollution in Agbogbloshie has real and significant negative impact on both occupational health and safety of scrap dealers and public health more broadly. Electrical and electronic equipment may include hazardous portions such as heavy metals, polybrominated flame retardants, and polymers such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PUR) that can produce persistent organic pollutants (POPs) when burned. Biodegrading according to extremely long half-lives, some of the most dangerous toxins present in e-waste instead bioaccumulate in living systems. Accordingly, certain techniques of dismantling and disassembly in use at Agbogbloshie adversely impact the environment, worker and public health."

SOLUTION: "Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP) is a community-based project to empower grassroots makers in resource-poor environments to: gather resources and tools; learn by doing and from others; produce more and better items; trade to generate steady income; and amplify their reputation as makers.

AMP has three components that function together as spacecraft: makerspace kiosk (modular construction system that is mobile and expandable, featuring prefabricated light-gauge steel semi-octet trusses that can be assembled, disassembled and reassembled as needed); maker toolkits (customizable per a given community's requirements, to support what makers want to make); and mobile app (for Android, that amplifies makers capacity for making and trading through information-sharing).

Makerspace refers to any open community lab or workshop where people can access tools and equipment for (digital) design and fabrication. Typically they are capital-intensive and housed in buildings that are fixed-in-place. Similar to other crafts (hovercraft, watercraft, aircraft and spacefaring vehicles) AMP spacecraft is an open-source alternative hybrid physical/digital architecture for making that affords maneuverability. Small-scale, incremental and low-cost, AMP spacecraft operates as a set of tools and equipment to craft space or inter-manipulate materials in different ways, spatially and performatively, enabling makers with limited means to navigate and terraform their environment."

CONTACT: [email protected]

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