I came across this post on readme.lk recently. It’s about upcoming policy on import of used computer systems to cut e-waste. Which is good. Because we do very little recycling. And e-waste consist of mostly non recyclable material with many toxic chemicals.
However what I do not agree is the statement which claims Sri Lanka no longer need 15000 LKR systems. 15000 LKR systems are exactly what Sri Lanka need. But of course, I am not talking about 15000 LKR junk. But reliable working systems that can increase IT penetration of a country.
Also in my experience IT-junk pile up not when they break. But when we throw away perfectly working hardware while upgrading. Also used parts market often help prevent old systems going to junk yard.
Any way this post is not about second-hand market or junk. It’s about why we need cheap computers.
Price of a computer system is one of the things that keep computers away from our homes, schools and SMEs. Specially in rural areas. With the boom of used computer market, in many areas far from Colombo, parents can afford a computer for their kids. Not a powerful gaming rig but enough to do most of the things that a curious kid want to do. I have seen people buying systems for their parents, siblings and nephews back in their home towns while they are working in Colombo. And often they come with a valid windows licence. If purchased from a reputed seller they are quite reliable. Ofcourse there are some shops that sell absolute junk. You can fix that with proper regulation. This policy will probably help you do that.
Also some small segment in main cities are slowly moving from one computer per family, to one computer per person. And some are moving on to have purpose-built systems and hobby projects, for purposes that are not worth spending 40000/=. Such as a low power file/media servers for a home network. You do these things only when you can buy a system at a lower price. Or when you can keep using your ancient computer with cheap parts.
Need for cheap computers is also partly why you have a market for cheap smart phones. Because they are not just smart phones. They are poor mans personal computers.
Just imagine if computers were available for 15000/= how many people, households, SMEs and schools will benefit. I am not saying that lets import and ship all the junk to villages and rural schools. Lets be smart about this. SL has a need for cheap computers, which is not fulfilled. Because not everyone can buy a Core i5. Not everyone and every task need a core i5. Not just in SL, but all around the world. This is partly why second-hand market had a boom, laptops with Celeron processors are still being manufactured, low-end smart phones are being soled, and people get thrilled about things like Raspberry Pi.
We see a junk sale. But what we should see is a market for inexpensive and affordable computers.
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