A few days ago my computer shorted out. That explains the lag in between my second and third post. Some sort of electricity issue caused it to stop functioning. It didn’t charge, the screen was blank, the power button did nothing except conjure a single yellow light that taunted me. Every time I touched the headphone jack, I received a shock, as if to pour salt on my wounds. I thought, “there’s no way I’m going to find adequate repair or parts in West Africa, and a new laptop is prohibitively expensive here.” I was about ready to kiss this blog and my main source of information goodbye.
As I discovered, Accra has a computer repair shop practically every three blocks. I asked around and found one that came recommended. Within 20 minutes, I had an adjusted motherboard, a new adapter, and a fully-functioning laptop. Lord, my repairman, was educated at a Ghanaian institute of technology and has been working freelance ever since. His collection of new and used motherboards, hard drives, processors and laptops is impressive.
Those that see Africa as a vacuum isolated from western technology are misinformed. It’s a continent, infrastructure varies. In Ghana, even rural farmers often have cell phones. Networks are often more extensive here than they are in the U.S. Edem, my couchsurf host, lives in a community without running water that experiences regular electricity outages, yet still manages to check his email constantly. Many people here have smart phones.
A few days ago, Edem was complaining about his internet service provider. He uses a mobile network, allowing him to access the web anywhere as long as he plugs in a USB device. In an isolated part of the Volta region, he couldn’t get service. I told him that he’d be able to check his email in about an hour when we got to a better area, then teasingly consoled him by saying, “you know what we call that? A first world problem.” He laughed, having never heard that expression before. He then retorted, “I guess it’s a third world problem now.” I can’t say I disagree.