The most significant initiative in the history of Kent-based charity Digital Pipeline was launched today (December 12) when the first of 40,000 computers destined for schools in Tanzania left its Aylesford headquarters.
Two 13-metre containers, loaded with IT equipment, left the Aylesford site for a six-week sea voyage to Dar es Salaam, where they will be met by the Digital Pipeline CEO Bevil Williams.
The shipment is the first in a series of similar deliveries to some 1,000 schools across Tanzania, in a pilot project designed to provide both employment and education. If it proves successful, seven more African nations are queueing up to accept similarly refurbished IT equipment.
The initiative has the blessing of the Tanzanian government, which has gifted seven acres and buildings in Dar es Salaam for a digital campus – the most advanced facility of its type in Africa – enabling Digital Pipeline to launch its most ambitious project to date.
Founded in 2004 and originally called Computers4Africa, Digital Pipeline was established by Bill Gates of Microsoft. Today, the charity ships refurbished, ‘as new’, IT kit to emerging economies in Africa, Nepal, Pakistan, South America and the West Indies.
The concept is simple. Digital Pipeline appeals to UK businesses to let them have their ‘end of life’ computers and associated equipment, which are then refurbished to maximum standards, including certificated, US military standard, data-wiping, at Aylesford. Suppliers include the Metropolitan Police, NHS and Vauxhall Motors – but all donations, however large or small, are welcome.
The charity has a full-time team of IT specialists, logistics and support staff, and to date they have shipped around 200,000 computers to economically deprived communities around the world. Digital Pipeline sells the equipment at prices commensurate with the affordability of developing nations – For instance, a quality, fully internet-ready laptop is as low as £65. The money, together with donations from supporters and applications to charitable trusts, funds the charity’s continuing operations.
Bevil Williams – Digital Pipeline and Repc Ltd CEO
“We are tremendously excited at this project, the biggest we have ever undertaken. “Bringing computer technology to developing economies is key to driving educational, healthcare and commercial achievement. Harnessing digital technology is key to the future prosperity of these nations and their young people.”
“Some of these children will never have seen a computer. By introducing them to the internet, we are connecting them to a wider world which they have never seen. It’s a tremendously exciting time.”
Digital Pipeline chairman Abraham Sangiwa
Digital Pipeline is now appealing for more donations of IT equipment from UK-based donors and non-seaworthy shipping containers in developing countries, which can be converted into solar-powered classrooms, libraries and health centres in remote regions of Africa, providing much-needed facilities for the villagers.