Organisations send 7,000 PCs to educate and liberate Africa

28 Jul 2008

Irish organisations from Government departments to major blue-chip companies such as AIB have sent over 7,000 computers that would have been destroyed to help schools and colleges in several African nations.

PricewaterhouseCoopers is the latest enterpise to partner with Digital Hub-based Camara to donate laptops, desktops and other useful IT equipment that have reached the end of their economic life to schools and colleges in Africa.

Not-for-profit group Camara is the brainchild of Cormac Lynch, a former investment banker who decided after visiting a college in Ethiopia that he could make a difference through education and computers.

After the donation of a premises and the volunteering of a number of technical workers, he got to work three years ago asking organisations to donate old computers instead of destroying them or sending them off to be recycled.

Using technology provided by the Cyber Crime unit at University College Dublin, the machines undergo a rigorous procedure to securely erase all firm and client data.

“We spend a lot of time trying to educate people that there’s an alternative to just recycling,” Lynch explains. “The stuff people throw away could make a huge difference to people’s lives in Africa. It feeds into education and makes a difference.

“We get angry when we hear about organisations throwing old machines away without thinking whether they could be reused. Dialogue with companies is very important in order to make them comfortable and many agree it’s senseless destroying these wonderful machines that could be put to good use,” Lynch says.

He says that on average some 450 computers can be shipped on a 40-foot container and sent to Ethiopia, Lesotho, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

“At PwC we take our corporate and social responsibilities very seriously,” says Noel Carroll, director of Global Technology Solutions, PwC.

“We hope that the computer equipment we donate will go some way to further the education of people in Africa,” Carroll adds.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years