Donated computers are attractive to many resource-constrained programs because they seem to reduce the initial outlay required to obtain computer access. However, donated computers are rarely “free” to the receiving communities. In addition to transport, refurbishing, software licensing and maintenance costs, recipients of donated computers in off-grid areas typically bear the cost of providing the energy system. Since it is frequently power-hungry desktop systems and CRT monitors that are available from corporate donors, the diesel generator or PV energy system bought by the recipients can mean that a “free” donated desktop system actually costs more money than it would take to buy a new notebook computer and the less expensive power system required to power it. In these cases, donated desktop computers may not be worth the expense. However, donated notebook computers can be an excellent option, as in the case of Enersol (see case study link below).
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