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Data sanitisation and erasure firm Blancco is working with UK charity The Turing Trust to support the development of digital skills and circular economy initiatives in African schools.
Established in 2015, The Turing Trust provides IT resources and training to schools in a handful of Sub-Saharan African countries, including Liberia, South Sudan, Kenya, Ghana, The Gambia and Malawi.
As part of its collaboration with the Trust, Blancco will provide free licenses of its remote drive eraser software, which will allow the charity to securely reuse donated IT equipment such as desktops, laptops, smart phones and tablets.
To date, Blancco has securely erased more than 2,500 donated devices in collaboration with the charity, which have been given to schools across Sub-Saharan Africa to improve children’s access to computer technology and digital skills training.
In January 2019, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the United Nations E-waste Coalition found that approximately 50 million tonnes of electronic waste (e-waste) are produced each year – most of which is either incinerated or dumped in the landfills of the world’s poorest countries.
In order for IT equipment to be safely redeployed, organisations must first ensure that all data held on the device is irrevocably wiped. Once wiped, the equipment can get back into the secondary market without the risk of sensitive personal information being carried over and still accessible to the new user.
According to The Turing Trust, its collaboration with Blancco will be instrumental in accelerating their capabilities to refurbish and redeploy donated IT equipment at both speed and scale, as well as help limit rising levels of e-waste.
In its last annual report for 2021, The TuringTrust outlined that a total of 116,000 students are learning digital skills on computers provided by the charity, with 3,452 PCs supplied to schools in Malawi, Kenya, The Gambia and the UK that year. According to The Turing Trust, its supply of second-hand devices saved the equivalent of 966 tonnes in carbon emissions.
It added that when it began work in Malawi in 2016 – where it now operates its biggest project – just 3% of Malawian schools had access to an IT lab. Fast forward to 2022 and that figure is up to 81%.
“Our vision is to ensure everyone in the world gets equal opportunities to learn how to use a computer,” said James Turing, chief executive of The Turing Trust.
“By focusing our efforts in Malawi, we have shown just how much progress can be made with support from organisations and communities looking to donate their devices and give them a new lease of life.
“We have a wide variety of donors and partners that support our cause. We’re incredibly pleased to be partnering with Blancco, strengthening the security of our processes that we hope encourages more organisations to come forward with donations.”
Adam Moloney, chief financial officer at Blancco, added that each year organisations unnecessarily and physically destroy IT equipment due to not having appropriate data sanitisation practices in place: “At a time when there is a call for greater environmental stewardship, current attitudes towards device management are simply unsustainable.
“We’re very proud to be working with The Turing Trust to address issues of social and digital inclusion among school children in Africa. We firmly believe that a student’s education and development should not be impaired by their access to technology. Initiatives like this ensure we can collectively reduce the impact on our planet and put devices in the hands of those communities that need them most while following security best practices.”
In June 2022, IT sustainability experts told Computer Weekly that enterprises must build holistic circular economies around their operations to address every source of emissions and waste if the IT sector is to tackle its mounting contribution to ecological collapse.
Craig Melson, associate director for climate, environment and sustainability at trade association TechUK, for example, said that that buying refurbished IT equipment is a good place to start if organisations want to lower their carbon footprint.
He added that while many business buyers express concern about the data on devices, “this is not a valid concern as there are very robust processes now for effective data wiping for used tech”.