Maddog cautions SA against one laptop per child project

Posted by salparadise on May 17, 2006 5:20 AM EDT
Tectonic.co.za; By Richard Frank
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MIT's "$100-dollar laptop" has created a huge buzz, but does it make sense for the developing world? Linux International executive director, Jon "Maddog" Hall, offered an alternative for South Africans at LinuxWorld Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Hall told delegates at the tech conference that although the One Laptop per Child initiative - which aims to provide children with $100 laptops - meant well, it may not suit countries like South Africa. A better option could be refurbishing old computers and loading free and open source software onto them. "Now I'm not saying it is a bad project, but I have alternative for you," he said. "If some of the banks, financial institutions, engineering organisations [etc], decided that they, when they upgrade their computer systems, were going to allow them to be taken apart, refurbished and put back together, and employ people in South Africa to do that and then sell them for $100 a piece, you might find that will generate a huge number of jobs for people and the money will stay inside of South Africa.

"I'm not saying that the One Laptop per Child project is bad; what I'm saying is that you should think about where the money is going to be going, because I can almost guarantee you that the money for those laptops will not stay here in South Africa."

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