A South African-based company has invented a low-cost, four-in-one personal computer (PC) that could lower the cost of offering information communications technology in learning institutions. Officials of OnPoint Solutions say their purpose-built PCs offer internet, e-mail, phone, word processing and network facilities exclusively for educational purposes.

"OnPoint's all-in-one PC is an affordable computer specifically designed to enable the majority of the African population to communicate and perform basic computing functions," said Rahim Karsan, marketing director of OnPoint Solutions.

"Whether you need to communicate by phone or e-mail, OnPoint's all-in-one PC is capable," Karsan told the East African Standard in Abuja during a regional inter-ministerial conference on intergration of ICTs in education.

He said the system is very cheap because the Microsoft International has given it concessions.

Education officials from more than 20 countries who attended the conference took turns to visit the company's exhibition room which had several computers that journalists covering the event were allowed to use for free.

Unlike the common computer systems which come with separate central processing units (CPUs), monitors and keyboards, OnPoint's compact systems come with just a monitor (with in-built CPU) and a keyboard to match.

Each system has built-in telephone handset, 14-inch monitor, built-in speaker, keyboard and touchpad, 56k modem, 3 Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports, intel processor and Ethernet facility.

Whether you need to connect two educational facilities or multiple professors to a single educational institution, OnPoint's V-SAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) system permits complete connectivity.

"Distance learning is enabled by connecting geographically-dispersed sites through an independent communications network, while supporting major transmission requirements for distance learning, including date, voice, fax and multi-cast video," explained Karsan.

But one question that kept recurring was that of cost. But the officials allayed such fears, saying at 298 euro per system, including delivery to any port in Africa, their computers were cost-effective.

All Africa