An MSP has called for the Scottish Parliament to donate old computers to developing nations in Africa.
Gordon Macdonald, MSP for the Edinburgh Pentlands constituency, raised the issue in parliament last week and highlighted ongoing efforts to help people in developing nations gain crucial digital skills.
The Rotary Club, based in Currie, has helped more than 41,000 students with digital skills development in collaboration with the Turing Trust.
Macdonald told MSPs he has contacted the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body, urging it to partner with the Turing Trust to provide greater resources to students in Africa.
“The Rotary Club of Currie, Balerno, are doing incredible work locally and on an international scale alongside the Turing Trust,” he told the session.
“They have supported over 41,000 students in becoming computer literate and over 450 teachers to gain skills in basic computer maintenance and are using computers to support their teaching,” Macdonald added.
For organisations such as the Turing Trust or Rotary Club to continue their work, Macdonald noted, companies and organisations must be encouraged to donate their old computer equipment.
“In order for these organisations to continue this important project, it is clear that more companies and organisations need to donate their old computer equipment.
“I want to encourage every organisation to consider collaborating with the Turing Trust to help increase the positive impact they are making in Ghana, Malawi and other African countries,” he said.
Macdonald added: “I believe it would be a brilliant use of resources if the old computers from The Scottish Parliament were donated to the Turing Trust and put to use in schools in Africa. I look forward to pursuing this with the Corporate Body and helping the Trust to continue their great work.”
Gordon Lindhurst, Lothians MSP, echoed Macdonald’s statement, underlining the importance of technology in combating poverty.
“We live in a globalised world, and those who are cut off from it can often be left behind,” he said. “Fundamental to tackling the issue of poverty in Africa is equipping as many people as possible with the technology and support to work in that global environment.
“That includes equipping young people with the tools and skills to be able to learn and work in a world that is IT and technology-driven.”
Tech for Good
Every device the Turing Trust provides to a school in Africa must be wiped in compliance with military data erasure standards and loaded with offline educational resources. This work is being carried out by a team of dedicated volunteers in the capital.
While the Trust’s work is helping with digital skills development in African countries, it also helps reduce the environmental impact of computer devices.
Equipment donated to the Trust is appropriately recycled both in Scotland and Africa. By reusing old computer devices it has offset more than 2,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Writing for DIGIT last week, Donna Wood, project manager at XS Resources, highlighted the importance of reusing computer equipment. IT disposal initiatives in Scotland, for example, are helping to tackle food poverty.
Re-Tek, an ICT re-seller, has partnered with XS Resources and CFINE, a community food social enterprise, to offer free collection services to companies hoping to donate unused ICT equipment.
CFINE carries out a range of community support programmes, including a food bank which will distribute in excess of 20,000 emergency food parcels in 2019.