If you think it’s all over for your PC, boot it off to South Africa before the World Cup, says Computer Aid
While the UK packs a squad of temperamental footballers off to the World Cup, businesses are urged to put their old PCs on the transfer list to benefit South Africa’s disadvantaged citizens. Because unlike sportsmen, PCs can be reconditioned to match fitness.
Rio Ferdinand needs medical attention and Rooney has blown a fuse – but charity Computer Aid International has promised to take PCs with similar problems, and use them to help build a sustainable economy and bridge South Africa’s digital divide.
South Africa is the first African nation to host a World Cup, and it is hoped that the event will give a boost to the country’s economy by creating jobs, infrastructure, transportation systems, and a place for Africa on the international stage. According to FIFA over 26 billion people will watch the tournament on TV, while an estimated 300,000 people will visit the country to attend the event.
However, Tony Roberts, CEO of Computer Aid International – a charity which offers refurbished PCs and laptops to schools, hospitals and communities in developing countries – has questioned whether the financial boost provided by the World Cup will continue to have an effect after the event is over.
Country’s poor need access to ICT infrastructure
“The South African government has made a valiant effort to upgrade the nation’s ICT infrastructure in order to host the World Cup and it has already joined an elite band of countries that have started the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting,” said Roberts. “But, unless the country’s poor are given the opportunity to tap into this ICT infrastructure and take part in the digital economy, the investment will make no difference to their lives.”
Roberts explained that only two percent of the African population own computers, and just over eight percent have internet access. In other words, the vast majority of the population of South Africa will be denied the opportunity to contribute to the economy by working in IT-related jobs.
“While the World Cup will be over in a couple of months, a single IT-trained individual has the potential to earn enough to feed an extended family of 10-20 people for many years ahead,” said Roberts. “However, the stark reality is that in the poorest communities in South Africa, even schools, simply cannot afford to invest in ICT.”
Computer Aid is calling on football fans to donate PCs in order to help create a new generation of IT-literate school children. “By making computers available to the digitally disenfranchised, Computer Aid can ensure that ordinary South Africans reap the benefits of the huge capital investment in ICT and other facilities required to host the World Cup.”
The organisation also points out that the donation of end-of-life PCs provides companies with the opportunity to build on their corporate social responsibility and green initiatives, while ensuring compliance with UK legislation such as the Data Protection Act, WEEE directive, and the Environment Act.
Earlier this year, Computer Aid started shipping portable, solar-powered cyber cafés to rural communities in Africa, giving people in remote areas the chance to get online. The cyber cafés are housed inside standard 20 foot shipping containers, with built-in solar panels on the roof. The first cyber café was sent to Macha in Zambia on 30 March.
While companies such as Computer Aid are working to make the benefits of the World Cup as sustainable as possible, efforts are ongoing in the UK to improve the efficiency of the IT systems required for the Olympic games in 2012.
Last year, lead IT consultant for the London Games, Atos Origin, said it would leverage a number of technology innovations, such as server virtualisation, to improve access to information and deliver the most sustainable Olympic Games yet.
“We are expecting to increase access to the Commentator Information Systems from outside the host city, enabling journalists to access the rich information from the offices in their home countries to reduce costs and the carbon footprint,” said Michele Hyron, chief integrator at Atos Origin for London 2012.
Atos Origin’s contract with the International Olympic Committee has also been extended to to include the Sochi Olympic Winter Games in 2014 in Russia, and the 2016 Olympics.