Notwithstanding the increasing importance of electronic waste both in academic literature and in practice, robust evidence with respect to entrepreneurial activities within the e-waste space is limited. Much of the literature on e-waste have focused on the environmental and health concerns with no reputation for how e-waste sector offers platform for the entrepreneurial development and livelihood empowerment for the urban poor. The current paper adopted a case study research design to analyze the entrepreneurial dynamics of the downstream e-waste enterprises at Agbogbloshie e-waste processing site in Accra, Ghana. Therefore, the paper links the literature on e-waste, informality, and entrepreneurship. Having identified the downstream e-waste enterprises as collectors/scavengers, recyclers, refurbishers, the middlemen, and scrap dealers, I argue that scaling up enterprises to tap into the opportunities embedded in the e-waste sector would not only create more jobs for the urban poor but would also boost the local economy. The paper finds evidence of necessity and opportunity-driven motives for engaging in the e-waste business. The findings further show that while collectors are survivalists, recyclers and refurbishers exhibit the characteristics of both survivalists and growth-oriented, and scrap dealers are growth-oriented enterprises. There is also evidence that the e-waste business offers better livelihood opportunity by way of creating jobs for the urban poor, income generation, and remittances. However, amidst competition due to free entry, harassment from the government, and associated environmental and health risks, the entrepreneurs adopt some coping strategies, including payment of ‘illegal’ money (facilitation fees) to city authorities and the security agencies, creation of bulks of e-waste, diversification, self-medication, and paying for the e-waste. The paper concludes that the e-waste generates several entrepreneurial opportunities thus must be streamlined and integrated alongside with the formal sector to create more jobs for the growing number of urban poor.

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Berner, Erhard
Governance and Development Policy (GDP)
International Institute of Social Studies

Ecklu, Marilyn Adzo Selorm. (2021, December 17). Dynamics of downstream electronic waste entrepreneurship in Ghana: a case of Agbogbloshie. Governance and Development Policy (GDP). Retrieved from