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Closing the gap on SA digital divide

from DION HENRICK in Cape Town
CAPE TOWN – SOUTH Africa’s prospects of closing the digital divide have received a major boost after an international social enterprise committed to that cause opened its first headquarters in the country.

Close the Gap has opened its local headquarters at Philippi Village in Cape Town.

The company aims to bridge the digital divide by offering high-quality, pre-owned IT devices such as laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets and servers donated by large and medium-sized corporations or public organisations to educational, medical, entrepreneurial and social projects in developing and emerging countries.

Close the Gap Group is constituted out of both not-for-profit entities in South Africa and Belgium as well as commercial social enterprises in both countries and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Kenya.

Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis, and the King and Queen of the Belgian ceremoniously handed over the first computer to the Philippi community.

It marks the first time that Close the Gap, with its technical partner, AST Recycling, has opened a social upliftment social enterprise which is coupled with a computer upcycling refurbishment centre containing a storefront.

“We are thrilled to open our first South African office here, and intend to be a conscious tenant, one which provides IT equipment at an affordable, accessible cost, while supporting community involvement in the circular economy of IT assets,” said Close the Gap CEO, Olivier Vanden Eynde.

Africa has a persistent digital divide, driven in part by the high cost of devices, yet large and medium corporations frequently dispose of IT assets before those items have reached the end of their life.

Yet, computers have a huge environmental impact, from the manufacturing process through disposal.

Over 50 million tons of electronic waste is produced globally per year.

“AST Recycling and Close the Gap both share an unshakeable belief that in closing the digital divide through providing quality IT devices to communities, we are also supporting the circular economy,” said Rodney Peters, CEO of AST Recycling.

Since starting their partnership in July 2021, AST Recycling has collected and refurbished more than 1,000 devices in South Africa on behalf of Close the Gap.

– CAJ News

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