Rwanda’s Government to Buy into the One Laptop per Child Project

Computing

President Paul Kagame has indicated to the One-Laptop-Per-Child project that government will buy laptops from the new sales promotion scheme 'Give 1 and Get 1' (GIGI), RNA has learnt from a senior official behind the plan.

Starting November 12, One Laptop Per Child - the brain-child of American Prof. Nicholas Negroponte will be offering a 'Give 1 and Get 1' (G1G1) promotion. For US$399, a person in a developed country will be purchasing two XO laptops. One that will be sent to a child in a developing nation and one that will be sent to their child at home.

According to John Visser from Nortel Networks - one of the major companies sponsoring the One-Laptop-Per-Child project (OLPC), the Rwandan government has promised that it will buy a second laptop for every laptop that will be brought to Rwanda. This means that there will be two laptops coming to Rwanda on every single consignment.

"President Paul Kagame has indicated that his government will in fact convert this (G1G1) for Rwanda to a 'Give 2 and Get 1' because for everyone that is purchased for Rwanda, government will buy another to make 2", said Visser.

President Kagame apparently made the commitment at a meeting in New York with Prof. Nicholas Negroponte, chairman and founder of the OLPC group. Kagame was there for the UN General Assembly.

It is planned that by the end of this year, five million of the laptops will be delivered to developing countries, in one of the most ambitious educational exercises ever undertaken. Visser said the promotion is "open-ended" with no specific dateline.

"In fact as staff of Nortel Networks - we have already expressed interest in this project and are just waiting for the specifics so we can buy lots of them to help hundreds of children out there", said Visser.

The XO's software that the green-white laptop uses has been designed to work specifically in an educational context. It has built-in wireless networking and video conferencing so that groups of children can work together.

The project is also working to ensure that children using the laptop around the world can be in contact. Search engine giant Google will also help the children publish their work on the internet.

Observers say the decision to open up the Give 1 Get 1 program in November reflects a public change in strategy for the OLPC project, which comes amidst some serious setbacks. The price of the US$100 laptop has now climbed to US$188, and many potential buyers are unwilling to commit to purchasing in bulk.

Because lowering the price of the laptop is dependent on achieving significant scale with the project, OLPC is looking for a way to do two things: generate revenue, and move units. It is hoped that the US$399 price tag will do both, as consumers pay a slight premium for the bundle.

Rwanda News Agency