South Africa’s Government Rejects Used UK Computers

Computing

A British charity that puts used computers into African schools slammed the South African Government for failing to support an initiative that would see all of South Africa’s 5 million secondary pupils getting access to computers for just R50 million (US$670,000).

A British charity that recycles computers discarded by top UK companies says it could make SA's 5-million secondary school pupils computer literate for just R50m.

Digital Links International opened a branch in Johannesburg this week to intensify its efforts to supply computers to SA's schools and colleges. Its short-term target is to reach at least 1-million pupils.

SA was now a particular focus, said its chairman, Sir Paul Judge, who is a director of Standard Bank. Digital Links works in 22 African countries, and more than 25% of secondary school pupils in Kenya now use its computers. "Kenya is much poorer than SA and if Kenya can achieve that, we want to replicate that here. If we can get to a quarter of the secondary school kids in SA it would be wonderful," Judge said.

He said the South African government had not lent its support because it viewed secondhand computers as inferior and felt Africa was being used as a dumping ground for obsolete technologies. That was not the case, he said. UK businesses bought such high-end computers that even when they were discarded they still had 95% of the functionality of the average new model. "You get a two- to three-year-old computer way beyond what is actually required to teach in a school," he said.

"The national government is worried about taking secondhand computers, although the provincial governments and the schools themselves understand that they can buy 10 times as many computers from us as they can if they buy them new”.

It costs R8000 to supply 20 computers and train the teachers, and since a typical school has 800 pupils, that equates to R10 a pupil. All SA's 5-million secondary school pupils could be given computer access for just R50m, said Judge.

(Source: Business Day)