U.S. Group Reaches Deal to Provide Laptops to All Libyan Schoolchildren

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The government of Libya reached an agreement on Tuesday with One Laptop Per Child, a nonprofit United States group developing an inexpensive, educational laptop computer, with the goal of supplying machines to all 1.2 million Libyan schoolchildren by June 2008.

The project, which is intended to supply computers broadly to children in developing nations, was conceived in 2005 by a computer researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nicholas Negroponte. His goal is to design a wireless-connected laptop that will cost about $100 after the machines go into mass production next year.

To date, Mr. Negroponte, the brother of the United States intelligence director, John D. Negroponte, has reached tentative purchase agreements with Brazil, Argentina, Nigeria and Thailand, and has struck a manufacturing deal with Quanta Computer Inc., a Taiwanese computer maker.

Mr. Negroponte, who was in Tripoli this week to meet with Libyan officials, said he discussed the project extensively with the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, in August.

?When I met with Qaddafi, it had all the mystique and trimmings expected: middle of the desert, in a tent, 50 degrees C. etc.,? Mr. Negroponte, who was traveling to Asia on Tuesday, wrote in an e-mail message. ?It took him very little time to find O.L.P.C. appealing as an idea.?

The idea appealed to the Libyan leader, according to Mr. Negroponte, because it fit into his political agenda of creating a more open Libya and becoming an African leader. The two men also discussed the possibility of Libya?s financing the purchase of laptops for a group of poorer African nations like Chad, Niger and Rwanda.

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Source: The New York Times (link opens in a new window)