Affordable green computers to Uganda

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Scott Jagow: Executives from Microsoft are in Africa today. They’re working with the U.N. to open a new business: the Uganda Green Computer Company. Gretchen Wilson has more from Johannesburg.

Gretchen Wilson: The idea is that Western companies will donate their three to four-year-old computers to this upstart business in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Technicians there will recondition and resell them.

Will Poole is a vice president with Microsoft:

Will Poole: A PC purchased from the Uganda Green Computer Company might cost between a third and a half of what that PC would cost new.

Starting at $175. That’s more affordable to small businesses like dress makers and coffee farmers. They’ll use the computers to manage orders and income — and reach out to new markets.

Poole says this means new markets for Microsoft products, too. Each computer is loaded up with genuine Windows software.

Poole: In the short term, we may not make any direct returns on some of these efforts. But in the long term, we are unquestionably building future customers.

The Uganda Green Computer Company plans to restore 10,000 PCs this year. And when these computers reach the true end of their useful life, the firm will take them back for recycling.

In Johannesburg, South Africa, I’m Gretchen Wilson for Marketplace.

All reporting by Gretchen L. Wilson, © 2008

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