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Computer chip shortage driving demand for refurbished devices in Africa

By , Portals editor
Africa , 14 Jul 2021
Qrent CEO Bengayi Kumbula.
Qrent CEO Bengayi Kumbula.

Computer chips - semi-conductors - constitute the brain within every electronic device. New devices cannot be produced due to the global shortage which is affecting some of the world’s biggest manufacturers and which has been reported this year, to have reached a crisis point.

This is according to Qrent, a division within the InnoVent group of companies. InnoVent is a Fintech and leasing solutions provider, and in February opened an office in Nairobi.

It is targeting CIOs and CFOs with the intention to help them adopt an integrated, life cycle approach to IT procurement.

Now focus has turned to the global shortage in computer chips and the subsequent demand for refurbished devices.

According to Qrent CEO Bengayi Kumbula the chip shortage has affected the production of new laptops, desktops, and tablets. “Currently, companies have been waiting for very long lead times for new stock to arrive and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) locally and globally cannot meet the demand.

Kumbula says Qrent is looking to bridge this gap with its stock of refurbished devices.

He asserts that there are significant costs savings to be had by using certified refurbished computers in the circular economy, which is an alternative to a traditional linear economy model (make, use, and dispose) in which resources are kept in use for as long as possible, maximum value is extracted from them whilst in use, then materials are recovered and products are regenerated at the end of each life.

“Africa has been using circular economic principles for generations. As new business models and technologies emerge, opportunities can be harvested by a variety of commercial sectors. Our experience in Africa has assisted us to roll out this solution to the United Kingdom where our second life offering has been enthusiastically embraced by corporate enterprises.”

Kumbula explains that initially the chip shortages were thought to be nothing more than a temporary delay in supplies as factories shut down when COVID-19 first hit. “The shortage is a direct result of the pandemic which increased demand for personal electronics such as cell phones and laptops to an extent where production could not keep pace with demand.”

Qrent refers to Apple as an example. The company says Apple is reputed to be the world’s biggest buyer of semiconductors spending US$58bn annually and was forced to delay the launch of its iPhone 12 by two months last year, due to the shortage.

This surge in demand is being driven by the change in working models with so many people being shifted into remote gear to work from home.

“Leasing and subsequent refurbishment and repurposing of IT assets, overcomes the short lifespan challenge typically associated with IT assets and aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12 on responsible consumption and production,” notes Kumbula .

He adds that refurbished computers give IT equipment a second life, keeping hardware in circulation for longer and away from landfills. “Qrent, has stock available in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and the UK, which can go a long way towards assisting businesses waiting for stock. The old ‘produce and discard’ approach is changing, with organisations moving toward a more sustainable ‘produce, use, reuse and recycle’ philosophy. By accessing refurbished equipment, organisations support a more sustainable model. This approach supports organisations’ sustainability goals and feeds into Africa’s and the UK’s circular economy – a model that perhaps many countries in the world can learn from.”

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