Many of us have used a series of smartphones over the years. When we have a badly damaged phone, we abandon it for a new one. Do you know that some broken phones in Africa are shipped to Europe as a business? Some entrepreneurs have found ways of making money from our damaged smartphones. In Ghana, Eric Arthur moves around the country picking broken mobile phones.
From scraps yards, repair shops to people’s homes, he searches for where to get these broken gadgets with his team. They do not collect these phones without paying a small amount. To many, letting go of their old phones could be a challenge. This requires some persuasion before they could let go of them. However, Arthur is only a local contractor who makes money picking these phones.
What Happens to These Damaged Phones?
Closing the Loop, a Dutch company is responsible for the shipping of the smartphones that Eric and his team gather around the country. The company has partners in different parts of Africa, including a Nigerian company, Hinckley Recycling. The company picks these phones up and sends them to where they are broken down, before recycling. It takes a specialist smelting company to retrieve most of the phone’s metals. The plastic parts are incinerated during this process.
Since Africa does not have a complex or advanced smelting plant that can retrieve small quantities of metals that can be used in manufacturing mobile phones. The continent misses the infrastructure, legislation, or consumer awareness for producing mobile phones. However, using Africa to create new smartphones has become easier with the recycling method.
To fund the collection of smartphones and recycling require money to sustain. According to the Global E-waste Monitor, the continent generates a million tonnes of electronic waste. Out of these millions of waste, only a few percentages of the gadgets make their way to recycling companies around the world. Africa has experts who have specialized in life-cycle extension; however, handling the waste electronics with the right tool is not available.
Companies involved in shipping the phones abroad have deals with organizations and companies. This means that the companies in Africa are paid by those abroad when their phones arrive. While companies like Closing the Loop pays less than a dollar for each damaged phone, it receives more money when the phones reach Europe. The higher payment helps Closing the Loop cover its shipping, recycling, and collecting of smartphones around the continent, including, making some profit at the end of the transaction.
We have other companies involved in this business in different parts of Africa like the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Centre (WEEE) in Kenya. Are you thinking of starting a lucrative business in Africa? You do not have to break a bank before you start a recycling smartphone business on the continent.
If you have a bigger recycling company that can accept your e-waste for a token, you can make a lot of money. You can turn to a middleman who buys from the locals who pick this waste for a little amount.