Africa and used PCs.

PositionPersonal computers

The well-worn consumer adage 'you get what you pay for' has application to African consumer purchases of used PCs.

The savings on purchase price may quickly evaporate in the face of increased costs for maintenance and support, if there is any support at all. This is the conclusion of the South African research organization Open Research. The comments came in a recent report in Business Day (Johannesburg) in late March.

Not only are the machines likely to have a higher Total Cost of Ownership (TOC) but they can be unstable as well. Computer crashes not only affect customer satisfaction, but if the customer happens to be a small business or a school, poor PC performance can affect productivity and profits, or in the case of school PCs, learning. A computer that crashes frequently can create frustration on the part of students and impact their motivation.

Refurbished PCs come onto the African market as an answer to technology underdevelopment. But the additional expense from higher maintenance and loss of data may mean that prospective buyers should 'just say no', says Business Day.

Open Research blamed donor nations from developed economies for foisting used PCs on African countries as a means of getting rid of the PCs. Under such circumstances the donation may cause more harm than good.

TOC is affected not only by maintaining the hardware, but also by technical...

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