The faraway second life of consumer electronics

Sep 05, 2013

One might best describe Lagos, Nigeria's Computer Village as a harried community of electronics vendors, traders, scammers, and shoppers. Shops pour out onto the street touting everything from fully built desktop computers to stacks of scanners to mobile phone recharge cards, and there's a steady flow of people, vehicles, and vendors choking the streets.

This is where office computer equipment goes to live a second life. Used peripherals are piled waist high, with clouds of mice and cables tangled up like bowls of spaghetti and meatballs. Clicky keyboards from 1992 sit next to laser keyboards from 2012, and laser printers are stacked on street corners like firewood.

Everything is for sale, and everything should be haggled for. A used 6" micro USB cable cost just under $3 after some back-and-forth while a questionably new 8GB SD card ran around $24.

The village flourishes with streets packed with shoppers. And like in any center of commerce, a secondary market has developed as well. Corn, pineapple, and oranges are the favorites on the streets here, as well as boiled peanuts and suya, West Africa's version of shish kebab.

The result is a sprawling community several blocks square that is an ecosystem of city life and electronic commerce.

Best foot forward

Shoes line the window of a parked Lexus on a street corner of the Ikeja Computer Village in Lagos, Nigeria

Cable choices

A vendor sorts through used cables searching for the right micro-USB connector. Final cost: N 500 (around $3.00)

(Computer) mouse infestation

A swarm of used mice from different eras are for sale.

Keep off the wall

Streetside in the Ikeja Computer Village, Lagos, Nigeria. Many residences and businesses paint DO NOT URINATE HERE on their walls in an attempt to improve sanitation.

Oranges for sale

African oranges for sale on the streets of the Ikeja Computer Village. Cost for four oranges: N 300 (around $1.80).

Cornucopia

Food vendors take advantage of the computer village shoppers in Lagos.

Power stations

A sea of generators powers the Ikeja Computer Village when the unreliable power grid system in Lagos fails.

On the street

Streetside in the Ikeja Computer Village, Lagos, Nigeria.

Print shop

A proprietor of deskjet printers keeps watch over his wares.

Services available

Computer technicians advertise their services over piles of computer parts.

Traffic jam

Traffic comes to a standstill in the Ikeja Computer Village as consumers and hawkers weave around idled vehicles.

Printer stacks

Stacks of laser printers sit under a corrugated roof at the Ikeja Computer Village.

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