The Digital Divide can’t be bridged by a computer dump

August 15, 2010 at 4:46 pm 2 comments

“Let’s send computers to the developing world and reduce the Digital Divide.” NYTimes slideshow describes what happens to those computers that the rich countries send to the poor. The metals inside are worth more than use of the computer.

It’s funny that we make the same mistake developed/developing world as we do just in the haves/have-nots in the developed world.  “Let’s buy lots of computers and put them into classrooms in high poverty neighborhoods.”  Without training or support, those computers tend to get left in closets. The Digital Divide can’t be bridged by dumping computers into the gap.

At the dump, the machines are dismantled and often burned to 
extract metals for resale. The equipment in this digital 
cemetery come mainly from Europe and the United States, sometimes as secondhand donations 
meant to reduce the “digital divide” — the disparity in computer access between poor 
nations and rich.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary 
Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, agreed to in 1989 and now adopted 
by a majority of nations, was meant to stop the dumping of toxic waste in poor 
countries. But rules get complicated when the waste arrives as a gift.

via A Global Graveyard for Dead Computers in Ghana – Slide Show – NYTimes.com.

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