Can $100 Laptops Save the Third World?

Can $100 Laptops Save the Third World?

What's the solution to world poverty? Some might say food aid; others, training and investment. But, for a growing number of international philanthropists, the next big thing for the Third World might just be the same force that's been reshaping the First: technology.

It all started at the 2005 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, when Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, announced an ambitious plan to improve education and stimulate economic growth in the world's poorest countries with the development of a $100 laptop.

Just over a year later, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), the non-profit organization that Negroponte set up to facilitate the project, is preparing to ship its first systems to customers. Over the next 12 months, OLPC expects to build more than five million machines for distribution in China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Nigeria, and Thailand, where the laptops will be handed out free-of-charge to students as part of several large-scale pilot programs. The organization hopes to ship up to 500 million computers over the next several years, eventually bringing the price down to $50 apiece.

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