Written By: Melissa Rudd

 

Laptops may be an essential device for business men and women across the continent, but now schoolchildren in Africa are benefiting from the technology.

A foundation that aims to provide inexpensive computers to children in developing countries has partnered with the African Union (AU) to deliver laptops to primary school students throughout the continent.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the AU and 'One Laptop per Child' (OLPC) has been signed and will be vaild for two years.

XO features

The bright green and white XO laptop has been designed specifically for use in developing countries and has been hailed as an inspiration to manufacturers like Asus to make small and cheap laptops, like netbooks.

The snazzy XO runs on Linux, allowing for wireless networking and has a 7.5 inch dual-mode TFT display with a gamepad and video recorder. It has special environmental features to keep it protected in high temperatures, humidity and moisture.

OLPC states that "XO is about the size of a textbook and lighter than a lunchbox. Thanks to its flexible design and 'transformer' hinge, the laptop easily assumes any of several configurations: standard laptop use, e-book reading, and gaming."

Bridging the digital divide

The AU and OLPC hope the XO laptop will transform primary school education and promote strategies for better connectivity.

The Kliptown Youth Program in Soweto, the first organisation in SA to receive XO laptops from OLPC, has welcomed the scheme.

Executive Director of the programme, Thulani Madondo, says many children across the continent have never used a computer, especially those in rural areas.

“The best thing about this project is that children are taught how to use computers at a very young age,” he said.

“This is a good initiative which is going to benefit African children and it will bridge the digital divide.”

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