Philippi Village, Cape Town, 27 March 2023 Yesterday, Premier of the Western Cape Alan Winde, Executive Mayor of Cape Town Mr Geordin Hill-Lewis and Their Majesties the King and Queen of the Belgians ceremoniously handed over the first computer to the Philippi community as Close the Gap opened its South African headquarters at Philippi Village in Cape Town.
The handover marks the first time that Close the Gap, with its technical partner, AST Recycling, has opened a social upliftment social enterprise which is coupled with a computer upcycling refurbishment centre containing a storefront for easy public access.
“We are truly honored to have Their Majesties the King and Queen of the Belgians, and his excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa present at the first handover of nearly new computer devices to the Philippi Village community. We are thrilled to open our first South African office here, and intend to be a conscious tenant, one which provides IT equipment at an affordable, accessible cost, while supporting community involvement in the circular economy of IT assets,” says Close the Gap CEO Olivier Vanden Eynde.
As an international social enterprise, Close the Gap aims to bridge the digital divide by offering high-quality, pre-owned IT devices (laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets, servers, etc) donated by large and medium-sized corporations or public organisations to educational, medical, entrepreneurial and social projects in developing and emerging countries.
Africa has a persistent digital divide, driven in part by the high cost of devices, yet large and medium corporations frequently dispose of IT assets before those items have reached the end of their life. Computers have a huge environmental impact, from the manufacturing process through disposal. Over 50 million tons of electronic waste (e-waste) is produced globally per year, equivalent to the entire global fleet of commercial planes filled with electronic waste.
Ever-changing technology drives many businesses to purchase new servers, PCs, laptops and other devices even though the old ones are still in working order. Close the Gap collects high-quality used IT equipment from companies and organisations at no cost to the donor. Next to working with South-African corporate donations of end-of-first-life devices, Close the Gap RSA also acts as an IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) partner for commercial acquisition of devices, both locally in RSA, and imported from its partner company Circular IT in Europe. It is supported in its mission by AST Recycling, an ISO 9001, 14001, 27001 and 4500 certified e-waste recycling company in South Africa.
AST Recycling provides a certified data sanitisation process, and then refurbishes the IT assets for extended use as a pre-owned item. The company ensures that no personal or company data is recoverable from any pre-owned device before the hardware is tested and reconfigured.
This process keeps those operational devices in use while making quality pre-owned IT assets available to those who would otherwise not be able to afford them. By making refurbished IT equipment available, Close the Gap and AST Recycling are actively helping to create a zero-waste future that is cleaner, brighter, and more sustainable for all. Since starting their partnership in July 2021, AST Recycling has collected and refurbished more than 1,000 devices in South Africa on behalf of Close the Gap.
“What AST Recycling and Close the Gap both share is an unshakeable belief that in closing the digital divide through providing quality IT devices to communities, we are also supporting the circular economy. It’s equally important to us that we ensure that not only do high-quality pre-owned IT devices make their way to people who otherwise would not have access to devices, but that all end-of-life products are sustainably and responsibly disposed of,” says Rodney Peters, CEO of AST Recycling. “We are proud to be partnering with Close the Gap and in so doing, upholding our core principle of the Three R’s – reducing waste, reusing and recycling resources and products.”
About Close The Gap
Close the Gap is an international social enterprise that aims to bridge the digital divide by offering high-quality, pre-owned IT devices (laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets, servers, etc) donated by large and medium-sized corporations or public organisations to educational, medical, entrepreneurial and social projects in developing and emerging countries. Close the Gap Group is constituted out of both not-for-profit entities in South-Africa and Belgium and commercial social enterprises (B-Corps) in South-Africa, Kenya, DRC and Belgium.
For more information, visit https://www.close-the-gap.org/close-the-gap-south-africa
About AST Recycling
Established in 2013, AST Recycling is one of the only ISO 9001, 14001, 27001 and 4500 certified e-waste recycling companies in South Africa. Its services also include a full turn-key solution of IT Asset Management, IT Refurbishment and IT Asset Disposal. For more information, visit https://astrecycling.co.za/.
 B Corp Certification is a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials. In order to achieve certification, a company must: – https://www.bcorporation.net/en-us/certification