Computer Charity Seeks Ugandan Partners

British charity Computer Aid International (CAI) is looking for new distribution partners in Uganda as it seeks to help bridge the digital divide.

CAI supplies professionally refurbished computers to developing countries at a small fee. Until now, CAI has operated in Uganda with four partner nongovernment organizations. It is now talking to the new ministry of ICT to sign on new partners

CAI works to help not-for-profit organizations that work especially in rural communities as well as those that are constrained by finances and cannot afford PCs to serve the communities they work, said Gladys Muhunyo, CAI's Africa program manager.

Muhunyo said CAI's activities aid implementation of the UN's Millennium Development Goals at the grassroots. Lack of technical capabilities by partners and end users is usually a drawback and has often led to the failure of promising development initiatives, especially in disadvantaged and marginalized communities, she said.

Muhunyo was recently in Kampala to brief the media on the activities of CAI in Uganda, where so far some 4,000 PCs and laptops have been distributed to different institutions including educational and health organizations.

Phone access has rapidly increased in the past decade with the spread of mobile phones, but PC ownership and Internet usage has risen more slowly, with less than 4 percent of people in Africa using the Internet, compared with 63 percent in the U.K.

In Uganda, PC penetration is very low with just about 2 million PCs for a population of 28 million people.

But what is the cost of a new computer supplied by CAI? A single PC will set you back by a mere US$78, not including some additional costs. A used PC computer on the Uganda market costs between Ush400,000 - Ush800,000 ($235.20 - $470).

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