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'100 dollar laptops' for poor students to go on sale

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Sept 24, 2007
Inexpensive laptop computers designed for students in developing countries will be sold to the public in a buy-one, give-one scheme, the non-profit organization behind the project said Monday.

The "100 dollar laptops" -- which currently cost nearly twice that amount -- will go on sale for two weeks starting November 12, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) said in a statement.

The non-profit group was organized by Nicholas Negroponte, a co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Laboratory, who came up with the idea of providing low-cost computers for students in underdeveloped countries as key step to promote education.

The sales program is designed to give the overall OLPC project more publicity, and to encourage open-source software developers to write programs for the laptop's operating system, the non-profit said.

The program is "a terrific opportunity for the public to help eliminate poverty and make the world a better place by inoculating children against ignorance," said Negroponte in the statement.

The laptop -- dubbed the XO -- is a shock-and water-resistant device with a high-resolution screen that can be read in direct sunlight and in the dark, and has no moving parts aside from a rabbit ear antenna to connect to a wireless network.

The XO consumes about one-tenth of the energy a regular laptop uses, its designers say, and can be powered by solar energy or manually by pulling cords and hand cranks. It comes with a built-in video camera, a word processor, music and art software, and can be used as an electronic book reader.

Between November 12-26 US and Canadian customers can pay 399 dollars for two XOs on a first-come, first-served basis. One laptop goes to the buyer, the other to a needy student the non-profit will determine.

OLPC said in May it hopes the price will come down to 100 dollars by 2009.

UNICEF, the UN children's fund, announced earlier that it is putting its education content on all the laptops shipped.

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China ready to send more farmers to Africa
Beijing (AFP) Sept 20, 2007
China is preparing to send more farmers to Africa as rural laborers find it increasingly difficult to find jobs in the nation's urban centres, state press reported.

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