Recycling Mobile Phones in the African Continent: Neoliberal Repurposing, Social Networking and HIV Education

Authors: pullen, C.

Start date: 18 February 2016

This paper considers the rise of internet access in Africa, often enabled by the local purchase of used, disposed or donated mobile phones, previously owned in Europe and North America, making linkages to AIDS education. Examining the UNAIDS policy of ‘Mobilizing social networks for HIV and young people’ established in 2011, and contextualizing neoliberal aspects of global production and distribution, this paper considers the production of Apps and online content used for HIV health education, exploring social networking, and institutional discursive content. Contextualising Jutta Gutberlet’s (2008) work Recovering Resources - Recycling Citizenship: Urban Poverty Reduction in Latin America, and juxtaposing the notion of Africa as a dangerous wasteland where old computers are recycled for copper and iron in hazardous conditions, this paper suggests that the re appropriation of used mobile phones, offers a paradigmatic potential. Not only can the sustained and renewed lifespan of these technologies be enabled, limiting waste and pollution, but also vulnerable citizens in the developing world might be offered new resources of health education, and epidemic prevention. Through repurposing previously owned technologies from the Western World, neoliberal strategies of use, commodity and ownership are transformed.

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