Corporates! Give your PCs to Africa

Here's why

Yesterday we wrote about the real Digital Divide, and we promised to run a charity appeal on behalf of Computer Aid International. We asked for details of other refurb PCs-for-developing countries-charities, and we've received several, which we'll run tomorrow, along with a couple of domestic IT charities, running in the US and the UK.

Today, the field is clear for Computer Aid, the world's largest non-profit supplier of computers to developing countries. There's huge demand for end-of-life PCs, but corporates are wary of donating PCs to charities. It's time to change. Computer Aid has teamed up with sundry firms to supply logistics services. Unfortunately, it's limited to the UK and except for very large donations, limited to the south east.

Here goes:

Computer Aid International is calling on corporates and public sector organisations to donate their end-of-life PCs to schools and community groups for worthwhile projects overseas.

The charity is seeking Pentium PCs and aims to source 50,000 of them from UK businesses for shipment to developing countries.

There is enormous demand for refurbished computers for developing countries and there is a yawning Digital Divide. In developing countries, 99 per cent of children leave school without ever touching a computer in the classroom.

In Nigeria alone, state schools require 50,000 PCs and this severe shortage applies to most developing countries.

Are your company's old PCs skipped and landfilled - or refurbished for re-use by children in developing countries?

In the West, organisations consign millions of usable PCs to the scrap heap each year. These could and should have a useful second life. New computers
in most developing countries are rarely cheaper, and often more expensive, than in the West.

The price for one new PC is prohibitive for schools and groups in most of sub Saharan Africa. For the price of just one new PC, Computer Aid International can supply 20 quality, refurbished machines.

Tony Roberts, Director of Computer Aid International comments:

"End-of-life PCs are worthless to most companies - but invaluable to school children. Companies have written down the value of their redundant computers to nil, and all they see is a headache in getting rid of their old kit. We can take care of the headaches, while at the same time ensuring that the PCs
go to very good causes."

This is a good time for corporates and the public sector to consider the way they dispose their PCs. According to PC market researchers, the corporate
upgrade cycle is hitting an upswing for the first time since the last pre-Y2K PC buying rush. That means record numbers of decommissioned PCs will become available for recycling and re-use over the next 12 months.

But getting rid of old PCs can be expensive and cumbersome, especially when complying with product liability and data protection laws. Historically,
most old PCs - many perfectly usable - end up in landfill sites - up to 1.5 million a year in the UK alone. But this is dirty and dangerous. Computer
monitors contain between 4lb and 8lb of lead each, according to the Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition.

The new green laws

And soon this will become illegal, with tough new UK legislation following in the wake of the EU's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive
which passed its second reading on 10 April and is due to come into force in the UK by 2005. Over a third of companies interviewed by Selway Moore, an IT recycling company, claim that they are not aware of the directive and over a third of UK companies still use a 'scrapping' policy that will become illegal.

Through its partnership with Remploy, UK's largest employer of people with disabilities, Computer Aid International can offer a one-stop end-of-life
shop. It can take care of all the logistics headaches associated with disposing old PCs, including collection and data wiping to military standards. Computer Aid International is equally happy to work with other recycling firms.

Call to Action

To launch this IT Appeal, Computer Aid International has opened a dedicated Hotline for donor enquiries - 020 7281 0091. Please call for further information about how you can help this good cause.

Computer Aid International can collect computers from within the M25 catchment area but would be delighted to hear from businesses further afield if they could deliver to their London headquarters or from those companies who could contribute to the delivery costs.

For further information about Computer Aid International, please see or email it at

Established in 1998, Computer Aid International is a registered charity (no 1069256) and the world's largest non-profit supplier of refurbished
computers to schools and community organizations in developing countries.

Based in London, Computer Aid International tests, refurbishes, packs and ships donated Pentium computers from the UK for re-use in the not-for-profit
sector overseas.

Computer Aid International is committed to providing the highest level decommissioning service to its UK computer donors and delivery of the highest quality refurbished computers to its recipient partners overseas.

The success of these twin aims is reflected by the fact that Computer Aid International has been donated over 12,000 computers from corporates, universities and councils, which have in turn been shipped to over 916 educational institutions and 690 community groups in over 60 different developing countries in just 4 years. These figures have been achieved because Computer Aid International has developed strategic supply partnerships with leading companies such as Warner Bros. and Ford (Credit Europe) in the UK and strategic demand partnerships with overseas partners
such as SchoolNetAfrica.

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