Monday, 12 September 2011

Donating ICT Kit to Africa V’s Recycling in UK.

Donating ICT Kit to Africa V’s Recycling in UK.
I recently spoke with Computer Aid international on the subject of sending computers overseas to Africa. They  expressed  their frustration at the amount of PC's still remaining in the UK and not being donated to reputable charities such as Computer Aid international. We discussed the issue of FHE institutions choosing to have redundant PCs recycled in the UK as opposed to being sent to Africa for reuse. 
It has been reported in the past that personal data has been stolen from the hard drives of donated PCs and used illegally in the purchase of goods or to obtain money. This type of fraudulent activity can destroy a person’s credit history and ultimately leave them financially worse off than prior to donating their PC. PCs and other ICT equipment are often disassembled under poor environmental health and safety conditions for the sole purpose of abstracting their valuable metals and materials.  There is also the concern that donating overseas also adds to the air-miles and lifetime CO2 emissions of PCs.
However, this is not typically the case and only represents a small percentage of what really happens to ICT equipment when donated to a reputable charity. A more accurate account of donating ICT equipment for reuse in developing countriesis that the equipment ends up in schools, small businesses and medical centres. The positive impact the use of a PC has on the education and ultimately the life of a young African child, far outweighs the negative environmental impact created through the shipping of ICT equipment overseas or the possibility of personal data being stolen and reused illegally. Besides, Computer Aid will ensure that your data is deleted from the PCs hard drive.
So just a reminder to anyone who may be facing the dilemma of deciding whether to send PCs to be recycled in the UK or to donate them to a charity.
·        Empirical research proves beyond doubt that reuse of computers is far better for the environment than recycling: Reusing a computer is 20 times more effective at saving life cycle energy use than recycling. Given the substantial environmental cost of production it’s important  that the full productive value of every PC is recovered through reuse before eventually recycling it to recover parts and materials at its true end-of-life. A refurbished computer can provide at least another 3 years productive life.

·        Reusing PCs can help to support development projects, such as schools and hospitals in emerging economies: School children are the main recipients of Computer Aid PCs and the charity have so far provided an ICT education to more than a million children in the developing world. For these students, the opportunities provided through education and IT literacy offers a way out of poverty. It is only with computer skills that young people can compete for professional or administrative jobs. Even in the field of health care, Computer Aid has been providing laptops and digital cameras to doctors and nurses across Africa to save lives and stem the spread of disease through remote diagnosis for those in rural areas who are unable to reach specialists in central hospitals. Rural health workers are using the laptops to email x-ray images, medical notes and digital photographs of critically ill patients for expert clinical diagnostic support from experienced professional clinicians hundreds of miles away, bringing advanced healthcare to people living in the most remote areas. As a result, medical conditions can be treated promptly and accurately with life-saving consequences.

·        Aiding the disabled: Computer Aid has been working for a number of years to ensure that the disabled are able to access learning and employment opportunities. In Ethiopia, Computer Aid has provided computers to disabled people to help them to establish businesses and provide vocational training to the disabled. Most African schools have no services available for blind students, and 90% of African children who are blind don’t go to school at all. In a project supported by Sightsavers International, Computer Aid has been working with the Kenya Union of the Blind to provide PCs with assistive technology: software that produces synthesized speech output of the screen contents for blind users and screen magnification and enhancements for visually impaired users. The project is offering a new level of independence to users, allowing greater mobility and freedom and the chance to take up new opportunities.
While it’s understood that disadvantaged children in the UK are also in need of donations, they are far more likely during their childhood, teenage years and adulthood to be repeatedly introduced to computers, than a child in Africa. African children educated in the use of PCs from an early age are far more likely to become self reliant later years as their PC skills enable them to find employment.
To continue with its work, Computer Aid relies on the donations of computers and laptops from UK organisations. So please donate your unwanted computers to projects such as these. Call the charity on 020 8361 5540 or email or visit
Your generosity will help to change a child's life!

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