A Great Demand for

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-06-07 Print this article Print

Affordable PCs"> The actual cost of refurbishing these computers will be determined through the Ugandan pilot, which will also serve to prove whether the project is commercially viable before being rolled out elsewhere in Africa, Yumkella said. Microsoft and UNIDO, a specialized agency of the United Nations that works towards improving the quality of life of the worlds poor by helping countries achieve sustainable industrial development, are "committed to developing a model for refurbishment that is sustainable, both economically and environmentally," he said.
For his part, Dr. Cheick Diarra, the chairman of Microsoft Africa, told attendees that there is a great demand for affordable computers in the SMB community in Africa.
Read more here about new homes for old PCs. "Microsoft through its know-how with refurbished PC solutions, and UNIDO through its experience in entrepreneurial development, have the opportunity to help address this problem," he said. The recycling initiative also has stringent quality criteria for refurbished computers, including warranties and after-sales service, while the refurbishment initiative will address the proper disposal and recycling of computers once they reach the end of their lifetime. Microsoft and UNIDO will also address the issue of e-waste by promoting regional recycling facilities in East Africa, Ayala said. Click here to read more about the challenges that abound in the quest to connect Africa. This latest initiative is the third collaborative program between the two organizations in less than a year to enable new avenues of economic and social empowerment through access to innovative technology. Barbara Kreissler, an industrial development officer at UNIDO in Vienna, Austria, told eWEEK in an interview that what is unique about this program is that the refurbishment will be done locally; and the goal is to create a center of excellence for refurbished computers for East Africa. "This creates jobs in the region. Our goal is to create a business model around this. Also, as we are focusing on small and mid-sized enterprises, we believe the initiative will be successful and, lastly, we will set up e-waste recycling centers, where the components can be broken down into their elements and properly recycled or disposed of. This type of operation only exists in South Africa at this point," she said. Asked whether UNIDO has similar relationships with other technology companies, Kreissler said that while it talked to them, its relationship with Microsoft is unique, but that UNIDO is interested in partnering with other tech firms. "In terms of the IT sector, our partnership with Microsoft is the most developed. But we are open to looking into partnering with other companies and we feel that this refurbishment partnership might steer us in that direction," she said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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