Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tech for Africa

53. That is how many used plastic bags I guessed it would take to make a village football, a simple toy made by stuffing used carrier bags inside a net. There was a lot at stake with this guess. There was a competition to win a Kindle Fire HD. Free tech for me! I didn't win, but I did have a wonderful conversation with the people who work for Computers 4 Africa.
Wondering around the Bett conference at the Excel Conference Centre (also home to a very big arms fair) is like Charlie's visit to the chocolate factory; full of surprises and technological temptations, oh, and free sweets too. I was there with a buy nothing, how can we do the same as that with a free product mentality. My focus was firmly on providing value for my school. In the chocolate factory, looking for value can make you forget your values. Meeting the people at the Computers 4 Africa stand made me step back and think. As long as we are living in a world where we take technology for granted, whilst children in the developing world don't have access to the same wonderful enabling tools, then the gulf of inequality will only get wider.
What Computer 4 Africa do is quite simple, they take computers which schools and businesses no longer need and supply them to schools in Africa that otherwise could not afford them. It is run as a social enterprise with a 'hand up not a hand out' model. Beneficiaries pay a contribution towards the preparation and shipping of the computers but at the best price available in their locality.  They also donate 10% of the computers to the poorest causes.
If you have computers which are going to landfill, think twice. minimize waste by sending it to Computers 4 Africa knowing that you are giving some children the chance to access the same opportunities and information that we have. Equality of access will promote equality of opportunity.

note: I have no link whatsoever to Computers 4 Africa but I like what they do. If you are interested in what they do, check out their website.


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