Arts Council England began donating their unwanted IT equipment to Computer Aid International in May this year. Since then they have donated 344 monitors, 250 base units and 22 laptops to the charity.
The equipment was first tested and refurbished at Computer Aid's north London workshop before being shipped for reuse in Zimbabwe, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
A number of the computers were shipped to Stella Maris Polytechnic in Liberia. Stella Maris Polytechnic is the main distribution partner of Computer Aid in Liberia. They ensure that computers are provided with the appropriate technical support in place before being distributed for use in education, health and development projects across Liberia.
One of the projects that is run through Stella Maris Polytechnic is an IT technicians training course, improving access to vocational training. The course trains students to become fully skilled IT technicians with knowledge of computer installation, preventative maintenance, networking, security and troubleshooting. Increasing the skills base will support economic growth, job creation and encourage inward investment.
Computer Aid is presently seeking funding to enable more girls to take up this course, as ICT is currently a very male dominated sector. One example of a young girl who has benefited from PCs provided by Computer Aid is Naomi Griggs. Naomi is a graduate of the networking and computer maintenance course at Stella Maris Polytechnic and is now a trained IT technician.
The Arts Council's donated equipment is also being used in schools in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone and by an NGO called Community Justice Vision in Tanzania.
Darren Wilkin, Office Services Assistant Officer at Arts Council England explains "the reason we chose to donate our unwanted IT to Computer Aid was for both social and environmental reasons. Being a charity ourselves, it is important that we are doing the most socially responsible thing we can with our unwanted IT equipment and extending the life of the equipment is the best environmental option. It's great to know that our equipment is now benefiting people in developing countries
It was obviously also important that we disposed of our equipment in a professional manner and we were happy with Computer Aid's decommissioning service, which guarantees complete data destruction using UK Secret Services approved Ontrack data wiping software, plus compliance with UK legislation such as the WEEE Directive, Data Protection Act and Environment Act".
Naomi Griggs is a graduate of the networking and computer maintenance course at Stella Maris Polytechnic in Liberia and is now a trained IT technician.