Kigali and its environs have recently been dotted with colourful, bold red, black and blue bill-boards. The main message displayed is on the exchange of ordinary bulbs with energy saving lamps in a bid to save the country’s energy. Like any other resource, energy; if not well managed and conserved can easily deplete.
This year’s World Environment Day’s slogan was ‘Kick the habit! Towards a low carbon economy.’ The main international celebrations were held, last June, in the city of Wellington, in New Zealand.
The World Environment Day’s main thrust is that of putting environmental issues at the fore-front of political and social dialogue at international level, trickling down to the national and grass-root levels. Empowering people to be active agents of sustainable and equitable development.
The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) charged with environmental management organises the World Environment Day; and was this year seeking support from countries, communities and companies on the reduction of green-house emissions.
The day’s celebrations therefore focussed on initiatives that promote low carbon emissions, through improved energy efficiency, alternative energy sources, forest conservation and eco-friendly consumption.
Environmental conservation is both a corporate and personal responsibility. Over the years, companies have begun to integrate conservation not only as part of their corporate social responsibility, but also as their core business.
A power utility company for example acknowledges its role as a country’s provider of electricity. In order to ensure that it achieves its mission, it is paramount that the available resources are properly managed to the benefit of current and future generations.
There are numerous ways a utility company can propagate energy conservation and change consumption habits. One way, as is currently being advocated for via the above media campaign is the use of energy saving lamps in exchange for the conventional, high-energy-consuming 100W bulbs.
It is anticipated that the company will then dispose these lamps in environmentally sound ways. Speaking of disposal, this is yet another way we can conserve our environment. How we manage industrial and domestic waste goes a long way in determining the state of our environment.
One UK based not for profit organisation is taking the concept of ‘reduce, re-use and recycle’ to a whole new level in bridging the ICT gap in an environmental friendly way.
Computer Aid International is a registered charity that aims to bridge the digital divide between the rich and poor countries though the provision of high quality refurbished computers and their use in education and poverty reduction.
Computer Aid relies on the generosity of individuals, companies and organisations in the UK who donate their used IT equipment to them. The charity then wipes out the data, to military precision thus ensuring high level of confidentiality of the computer donated.
These computers are then tested and professionally refurbished, and shipped to educational and community organisations in developing countries.
In 2007, their warehouses and processes were inspected by the Environmental Agency. Following this successful assessment, Computer Aid was approved and licensed to operate as an Authorised Approved Treatment Facility (AATF) for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).
Any equipment that the charity is unable to re-use that doesn’t pass their stringent quality tests are recycled through licensed waste management within the European Union, that guarantee 0% of unusable equipment ends up in landfill.
Rwanda is beneficiary of 5,000 of these computers. Computer Aid is the worlds largest and most experienced computer refurbishing and distributing agency shipping over 120,000 computers to over 100 countries.
Through its provision of high -quality, low cost PC’s; communities that would otherwise have had a problem accessing the benefits of ICT, can now use technology for development.
Computer Aid has in the past worked with institutions such as RITA, the Ministry of Health, and Kigali Institute of Education.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, once stated that ‘it has become abundantly clear to us in Africa that ICT is an indispensable tool in the achievement of our development goals. We do not have the luxury of waiting until all the necessary pre-conditions are in place.’
By providing low-cost high quality PCs and facilitating support services, Computer Aid is helping thousands of disadvantaged communities enjoy the benefits of ICT, and for many that may be the only opportunity they would ever get.