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South African government concerned it is becoming a PC dumping ground

A UK charity that provides refurbished PCs has opened an office in Johannesburg despite the South African governments concerns that the country could become a dumping ground for obsolete computers. Digital Links International provides refurbished machines donated by European businesses to schools across Africa and has so far concentrated on countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Ethiopia. The charity said support from authorities in these countries has been more forthcoming compared to the South African government, which has been wary of being used to offload old IT equipment. Business and projects development manager Kerryn Krige, based in the new Johannesburg office, said: Its a very valid argument that Africa has been used for a dumping ground for companies. There has been little community motivation and it has been seen as a good way for companies to get rid of their computers but the WEEE directive has changed this dramatically. Despite government concerns many South African companies have supported the scheme. Computers sent to schools are loaded with offline encyclopaedias and e-books. In South Africa where many pupils dont have enough textbooks and the teachers are not always fully qualified Krige argues the positive impact of these computers is significant. Krige pointed to the Microsoft founded charity Digital Pipeline, which aims to promote the re-use of refurbished machines by disadvantaged communities. It estimates that currently only one in 250 machines are made available for disadvantaged communities. Launched last month with an EDS donation of 30,000 PCs, Digital Pipeline has a recycling fund so that every computer that goes through its scheme has money allocated for its recycling at its end of life. Krige said this scheme was: hugely significant because it counteracts these accusations of dumping. She added: We need to get computers used for their whole lives. Most of the computers from the UK are only used for one or two years. Digital Links has piloted computer recycling schemes in Ghana and Kenya. And it has also overseen a project that will send a container ship of parts for recycling from Kenya for Europe this month.

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