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Photos: Computer Aid warms Chile with white heat of technology

The Chilean Government is working with an IT charity to supply 100 percent of the country's schools with PCs
By Andrew Donoghue, Contributor
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Chilean Ambassador Rafael Moreno (right) receives the first of a 7,000-strong consignment of refurbished PCs from Tony Roberts, founder of London-based charity Computer Aid International. The computers will form a key part of a strategy, overseen by non-governmental organisation Enlaces, to ensure IT access at 100 percent of Chilean schools over the near future.

Other countries in the region are looking at replicating Chile's IT efforts, which the Government claims will have a trickle-down effect on the local community, as the PCs can be accessed not only by the schools' students but also their parents and neighbours.

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Computer Aid has recently celebrated a landmark, having shipped a total of 70,000 PCs to the developing world. The organisation, founded in 1998, refurbishes used PCs, routers, printers and other technology. It then ships them to a network of organisations in the developing world where they are distributed to schools, universities and community groups.

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Speaking to ZDNet UK recently, Computer Aid chief executive Tony Roberts (pictured) raised concerns about the viability of the One Laptop per Child Project (OLPC) being run by former MIT guru Nicholas Negroponte.

The OLPC project aims to develop a portable PC for use by children in the developing world for around $100 (£50). The price has risen since the scheme was first announced to around $135 to $140.

"The real reason this won't be successful is a misunderstanding of the history of technology. They are looking to introduce a non-standard, untested platform... which they will only sell to governments," said Roberts. "The decision to buy will be made by politicians who are elected every five years, and politicians generally don't take the decision to risk their political future on non-standard technology."

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Computer Aid is also planning a charity cycling challenge next February in Kenya to raise awareness of the organisation's work in that country. If you would like to donate your business' PCs you can find more information through the Bridge the Digital Divide project being run by Computer Aid and ZDNet UK's parent company, CNET Networks.

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