Mozambique manufactures low-cost laptops

Computing

While other countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region are relying on foreign-manufactured computers for schools, Mozambique, working with Portugal Telecom, has started manufacturing and distributing computers to schools throughout the country.

Mozambique becomes the first country in the region to manufacture school computers that will be connected to the Internet in order to promote e-Learning. Although most African countries are moving to using computers in schools, there are seemingly no efforts currently being made to start manufacturing their own computers.

Most countries including Rwanda, South Africa and Ethiopia are getting their school computers under the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) initiative being promoted by Nicholas Negroponte.

The Mozambique laptops, dubbed Magalhael, are jointly being manufactured by the Portuguese telecommunication company Portugal Telecom's Mozambique facilities and the Mozambican Ministry of Science and Technology.

The computers, about the size of a book, are being distributed to schools in Mozambique. The laptops offer a 60GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM, and will be using the Caixa Magica distribution of Linux.

Minister of Science and Technology Venancio Massingue said the Mozambican government's interest is to ensure mass access to ICT. "In addition to using computers in schools, the government will open centers where people can enjoy the benefit of communication technologies," Massingue said.

It is still unclear how the Mozambican government will provide Web access to schools in rural areas that lack an Internet connection and are not connected to the national electric grid.

But the Mozambican government is aiming to equip children with computer skills in order to promote critical thinking and innovation. Over 20 centers have already been opened across Mozambique so that as many people as possible can have access to the Internet.

Computerworld Africa