London-based charity Computer Aid International (CAI) yesterday celebrated the refurbishment of its 20,000th PC with the help of the Malawi High Commissioner.

CAI, which collects old PCs and refits them for schools and community organisations in developing countries, is set to ship 225 Pentium systems to Malawi SchoolNet — a project set up in conjunction with the British Council to bring technology to school children.

The Country's High Commissioner, Bright Msaka, attended the celebrations to mark the milestone at the group's London headquarters.

"The charity is going from strength to strength and this shipment is a real landmark for everyone who's been involved over the last five years," said Tony Roberts, executive director of CAI.

"I hope that as new EU legislation [the Waste Electric and Electrical Equipment Directive] takes effect we'll see donations increasing even more sharply and, with that, the number of beneficiaries in developing countries such as Malawi."

CAI points out that for the cost of purchasing one new PC it can collect, fully test and refurbish up to 20 quality machines.

"Computer equipment is freely available here in the UK and is not only vital to business but essential to education. In Africa 99 percent of children leave home without ever using a computer," added Roberts.

Statistics for waste equipment reveal that nearly 2.5 million end-of-life PCs were wasted in 2002 alone.

Computer donors can contact the appeal hotline on 0870 763 6161; note that anything less than a Pentium 100 cannot be accepted, however.

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