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Debate rages on for the ban on used computers

o James Wire
07.03.2011 kl 17:17 | CIO East Africa

When the Ugandan Government revised the Finance Bill 2010, one of the things that created a lot of concern to the ICT fraternity was the impending ban on the importation of used computers. This heavily affected a number of private businesses and Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) that were deeply involved in the distribution and resale of used computers in the local Ugandan market.

 

When the Ugandan Government revised the Finance Bill 2010, one of the things that created a lot of concern to the ICT fraternity was the impending ban on the importation of used computers. This heavily affected a number of private businesses and Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) that were deeply involved in the distribution and resale of used computers in the local Ugandan market.

Reasons were given ranging from the need to protect our environment from accumulation of e-waste, as well as the desire to kick start a local computer producing industry. While it was well received by some quarters of the ICT industry players, the reverse was true for others. This led to an intense debate that, despite a year down the road, is still alive among the various ICT industry participants.

Those for the ban insist that Uganda deserves more than used computers and because the cost of new PCs has gone down significantly, it is better to acquire newer hardware. They also believe that this ban will allow for the growth of a local PC production industry which will not only avail numerous jobs for the high number of unemployed yet skilled Ugandan graduates but also increase the retention of money spent on PC hardware into the country. They further decry the abuse that many dealers in used computers subject their customers to by providing PCs which hardly work 6 months after purchase, and yet no warranty is offered.

The anti-ban proponents believe that this decision by Government was not well thought out and only serves to protect the interest of a select few individuals. They highlight the cost of the used computers as being very affordable for most Ugandans as they range from US$50 to US$ 200 per set. They also believe that many schools will not be able to setup ICT programmes as a result of their inability to acquire the steeply priced brand new PCs. Another argument advanced is the reliability of some second hand PCs being higher than the so called new PCs.Above all, they are fronting a solution to the e-waste problem by proposing the setup of a recycling plant to manage the e-waste generated. This they believe is the more sane way out as opposed to banning used computers.

Some sections do believe that the used computer issue has not been researched well enough to determine its merits and demerits to the country. They do not rule out its negative impact nor do they also rule out its positive impact on the people and economy. However, they front the proposition of undertaking an in-depth research after which the findings can then be used to guide the policy makers in decision making.

However, as things go for now, it seems like we still have to contend with the Used Computer ban and just find other ways of addressing the ever present pressing needs to spread ICT skills in the country.

Keywords: Hardware Systems  
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