Education: Britons urged to recycle computers for Africa

People who are throwing away old computers or laptops are being urged to recycle them in a scheme to get more people in the developing world logged on.

According to charity Digital Links, 90 per cent of students in Africa have never touched a computer, and just 10 per cent of Africans have access to the internet, despite technology's importance in helping improve health and education on the continent.

The organisation has already supplied 65,000 computers and digital learning materials such as DVDs to developing countries.

Digital Links said nothing from donated computers, which have the data wiped from them before being refurbished and reused, went to landfill, with even damaged equipment was being recycled.

The Department for International Development is donating 200 redundant servers to the charity after upgrading computer systems in the UK and is encouraging the public to follow its lead.

According to Digital Links, three million PCs end up on the rubbish heap each year in the UK.

The Government servers will be used in IT labs set up in schools, universities and community centres in Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal and Cameroon, as well as being used in hospitals to give doctors and nurses access to the latest medical research and treatment and to store patient information.

And in Tanzania and Senegal, youths on the streets or those at risk of becoming homeless are given the chance to gain IT training and find jobs in schools doing IT maintenance.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said: "Throwing a computer into landfill is a waste when it could be helping some of the world's poorest people.

"Education is one of the best routes out of poverty, yet millions of people have no access to basic learning we all take for granted.

"Computers will help provide a new generation of students and medical staff with the resources that can help break the cycle of poverty.

"Donating to Digital Links is not only an environmentally friendly way to dispose of computer equipment, but offers taxpayers the best value for money as none of the equipment is wasted."

Sir Paul Judge, chairman of Digital Links, said: "A computer lab in an African school transforms the learning experience and the employability of its students."