by CIO Staff

Libya Buys Into ‘$100 Laptop’ Initiative

Oct 11, 20062 mins

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative on Tuesday added Libya to its list of program participants when the nation’s government placed a $250 million order for 1.2 million computers and the associated services, The New York Times reports.

The project, originally dubbed “$100 Laptop,” was launched at MIT by researcher Nicholas Negroponte with the idea of bridging the digital divide via affordable, low-end laptops with wireless Web connectivity for use by children in underdeveloped nations.

$100 Laptop Concept photo
OLPC Concept Photo

So far, Negroponte’s program has signed on four countries in addition to Libya—Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria and Thailand—and it has inked an agreement with Taiwan’s Qantas Computer to build the machines, the Times reports.

Negroponte visited Libya in August to meet with leaders regarding the program, including Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, according to the Times.

“When I met with Qaddafi, it had all the mystique and trimmings expected: middle of the desert, in a tent, 50 degrees C., etc.,” Negroponte said in a recent e-mail, the Times reports. “It took him very little time to find OLPC appealing as an idea.”

It is possible that Libya will be the first nation in the world to connect all of its children to the Web via computers provided by schools, Negroponte said, according to the Times.

In addition to the 1.2 million laptops Libya will receive, its $250 million buys it a server for each school, a crew to get the systems up and running, satellite Web service and additional hardware, the Times reports.

Models meant for testing will be sent out to each of the participating nations at the end of November, and mass production is expected to begin in the summer of 2007, according to the Times.

The “$100 laptops” have garnered negative attention in recent days for their lack of features, flash memory in place of hard drives, relatively weak processors and hand-crank batteries. Earlier this week, various news sources reported that cutting-edge security technologies will be included with the machines, and such new features may help dismiss some of the earlier complaints.

The laptops will run on the open-source Linux operating system.

Related Links:

  • Negroponte Gives $100 Laptop Update

  • ‘$100 Laptop’ to Provide Cutting-Edge Security

  • Bill Gates Blasts MIT’s $100 Laptop

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