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Tuesday, 2 April, 2002, 07:51 GMT 08:51 UK
Recycled PCs head for African schools
Many Ugandan schools do not have computers, BBC
Many Ugandan schools have only basic facilities
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Alfred Hermida, BBC News Online
By Alfred Hermida
BBC News Online
Old computers originally destined for the rubbish bin are to be given a new lease of life in Africa.

A researcher at a Scottish university is setting up a scheme to collect surplus machines and send them to schools in his native Uganda.

"Most of the computers have been decommissioned, because the institutions which were using them are upgrading," said Dr Morris Agaba, a research fellow at Stirling University.

So far he has collected 50 fully functioning computers, which he hopes to send to a secondary school in Uganda by July.

'Critical tool'

Dr Agaba first thought of the idea of recycling computers two years ago, but it was only when he teamed up with some colleagues over coffee that the whole thing came together.

Morris Agaba is behind the recycling scheme, BBC
Agaba: Wanted to give something back
He saw how every year, hundreds of thousands of working computers are scrapped as institutions and companies buy the latest models.

As a Ugandan who has studied abroad, Dr Agaba saw an opportunity to do something to help introduce children in his country to the computer age.

"I asked myself, how I could contribute something to the education of the children in fringe environments and I thought the most critical tool I could think of was computers," he told the BBC programme Go Digital.

The first shipment of computers is destined for a school 250 kilometres northeast of the capital, Kampala.

The school only has one computer which is used for administrative purposes, so its 1,000 pupils have probably never even seen a PC.

"The availability of computers will greatly enhance their studies and enhance their horizons," said Dr Agaba.

Net horizons

The machines will have some basic software, such as word-processing and graphics programs. But this is only the first step.

This is something that can be done wherever there are surplus computers

Morris Agaba
"Most important from my perspective is if they can get connected to the internet, as they will have a door open to the vast amount of information available there," he said.

Dr Agaba is currently looking at cost effective ways of shipping the machines to Uganda and even sending out volunteers to train the school teachers.

So far most of the surplus computers have come from the University of Stirling. But he believes that there are many more machines which would be thrown away, unless someone offered to take them.

"This is something that can be done wherever there are surplus computers, not just in the UK but also in the US," he said.

Morris Agaba
Computers were destined for the bin
See also:

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Cambodia investigates new waste dump
13 Jul 01 | UK
New life for old mobiles
25 Feb 02 | Sci/Tech
Computer dumping 'polluting Asia'
04 Mar 02 | Europe
A world drowning in litter
21 Nov 01 | UK
Getting in the recycle lane
07 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Uganda
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