Fair Phones


For my TED talk, i decided to look for videos with relevance to my paper topic of fair trade. What I pulled up was a video called Demand a fair trade cell phone and as I am always on my phone, it figured it would be a good video to watch. I didn’t expect my views to be changed so much or for me to take a different look at the technology industry.

I decided to research the speaker , Bandi Mbubi a little and find out more information about him. If its anything Mike Daisey thought us its a little research never hurts. Mbubi moved to the UK at 21 under political asylum from his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo.He was a student activist who fled the country after his safety was threatened.

One of the things the struck me the most during the video was Bandi’s comment, “strange paradox that the phones in our pockets are instruments of both freedom and oppression.” This country that has been so war torn because of the used of titanium to fund the actions of illegal arms group was also important for a country striving to grow. This is not the first time we have seen something like this however. For decades conflict diamonds were used to fund militias and armed rebels in countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Much like the push for conflict free diamonds, electronic manufacturers  have the opportunity to change and that is the purpose behind Bandi’s Congo Calling. it works to bring awareness of the injustice in the nation as well as seeking to share the benefits from these resources with the Congolese people.

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3 comments on “Fair Phones

  1. Is the phone itself an instrument of oppression? THat makes me think that the forces in the Congo use it to coordinate their efforts.

    What is disturbing is the extent to which either the countries or companies benefit from cheap materials from these countries. Why can’t we get a globalized economy that has a bottom floor of dignity instead of a bottomless cellar of human misery.

  2. I don’t know if you recall this idea of PhoneBloks. Maybe changes to phone design to minimize or eliminate waste would cut back on demand for titanium.

    Or, could phone-making and using countries add a recycle tax to our phones to cover the cost of titanium reclaiming.

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