Utelize Mobile raises more than £120,000 for Computer Aid to fund a life-changing tech hub in South Africa

At Utelize Mobile we have raised £120,000 for Computer Aid International to create a solar-powered digital centre in South Africa, for communities to gain access to vital technology and education.

On a mission to raise £500,000 over the next 3 years, we will be supporting Computer Aid to bridge the digital divide by contributing to the funding of repurposing shipping containers and turning them into solar-powered facilities with internet access and computers.

The money has been raised by selling unwanted corporate smartphones donated by customers, with 100% of the resale value going directly to Computer Aid to fund the programme.

The recent money raised has helped to fund the opening of a Solar Community Hub in Xitlhelani, Limpopo, South Africa, which was launched on March 2, 2024.

Richard Slade, Head of Partnerships at Utelize Mobile, said: “We partnered with Computer Aid in January 2022 because we realised that large businesses weren’t doing enough with their end-of-life smartphones and technology and we wanted to help them do something positive with it, rather than send it off for secure destruction.”

“After looking into potential partners, we discovered Computer Aid – and found that our values and vision were aligned. The programme is an ideal way for our customers to support the circular economy for technology, and we are proud to be part of such an incredible project making a difference to rural communities in South Africa.”

Bridging the digital divide

Since 1997, Computer Aid has helped more than 14.5 million people worldwide and provided more than 260,000 computers in more than 100 countries, enabling at least 1 billion hours of learning.

Solar Community Hub (SCH) is Computer Aid International’s flagship program in partnership with Dell Technologies. Originally created as a way of bringing technology to areas of the world without access to digital technology, the initiative is now moving beyond technology access for education alone. The Solar Community Hubs improve access to technology, healthcare and workforce skills for communities. They offer services based on each community’s unique needs.

Keith Sonnet, Chief Executive of Computer Aid, said: “Our vision at Computer Aid is to build a world where everyone has access to digital technologies and the opportunities they provide. We rely on the support of generous partners like Utelize Mobile and Dell Technologies to enable us to improve the lives of communities across the world by providing them with the technology they need.”

Digitising the Region

Xitlhelani Village is made up of 10,000 residents, with 2,300 expected to access the hub initially.

The facility combines digital literacy offerings with new services based on the community’s needs, including expanded network coverage and increased reach of internet services for community members at discounted rates, providing access to digital tools through a 10-station computer lab and free access to 30 laptops.

Members of the community also have access to educational content, used IT equipment at socially conscious prices, and an Internet Café.

This project will support children who would not have dedicated access to technology or develop computer knowledge otherwise.

Key characteristics of the Xitlhelani Village Solar Community Hub include:

  • The hub helps educate participants on basic computer skills while essential life skills such as CV building, university and scholarship applications, job search skills and career guidance, enabled by Dell solutions.
  • Dell Technologies equipped the Solar Community Hub computer lab with one server, 10 thin client low-energy desktops, 10 monitors, 10 webcams and one projector.
  • Dell Technologies also provided 30 laptops to be used in other rooms of the Solar Community Hub.
  • The hub has been designed as two connected shipping containers, providing more space than the original lab to meet community needs.

Natasha Reuben, Head of Transformation at Dell Technologies South Africa, said: “We are thrilled to be working with fantastic partners like SITA South Africa, Utelize, Computer Aid International and Amandla Community Projects to develop skills in the Xitlhelani Village community. It is also exciting that we’ve had the opportunity to launch a second Solar Community Hub in Limpopo in response to the rising demand for these services in the province.”

People can buy new and refurbished technology at a fraction of the retail price through Computer Aid’s eBay page.

Team Utelize

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