February 28, 2007 4:00 AM PST

Two visions for delivering PCs to emerging nations

(continued from previous page)

In the West African nation of Mali, a former local Geekcorps intern named Moussa Kita has formed his own IT firm, called Zirsun. Kita only has around four employees.

"But in Mali that's a midsize business, and they are working on projects across West Africa," Vota says. "We try to import as little as possible."

He said, she said
Negroponte, for his part, says the jobs that local PC manufacturing can provide are somewhat illusory, particularly if the cost of hardware goes up.

"Every country I visit, bar none, even the small ones, ask if they can build the XO in their country. My reply is in two parts. One, yes, if you will accept the price going up. Two, if you understand that this is really assembly and that assembly jobs are both few and not great jobs," he wrote. "The only justification to build the XO in each country is national pride--which is certainly important. Otherwise, local manufacturing does not affect economics as all the parts are (imported) anyway."

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Negroponte added that the two groups are in some ways targeting two separate demographic groups. The chipmakers are mostly reaching out to the so-called next billion users, or the villages and urban centers that are poor but have experienced some of the benefits of economic growth in places like China and India.

"We really want to bring the XO laptop to the poorest and most-remote kids, for whom school is often a tree and whose teachers may not even show up," he wrote. "It is about learning. It is a long-term investment in young children who will not be in the job market for 5 to 10 years at least. Teaching 6-year-olds Excel is criminal."

Intel's Davies and Via's Brown, though, stated that any cost benefits under the OLPC vision, in the end, won't be large at all. The OLPC laptop is made out of the same components as a PC, and will rely on the same sort of back-end servers and wireless antennas. Davies, in fact, doubted that the OLPC will hit its goal of $150.

"We know what LCD monitors cost," Davies said.

Local PC manufacturing is also growing alongside national and regional initiatives to increase PC ownership. Sri Lanka, for instance, has relaxed value added taxes and duties to make it cheaper to import computers while some banks in Turkey are offering zero-interest loans for PC purchases, noted Davies. In Brazil, Banco Santander Central Hispano, a large local bank, is offering zero-interest loans to students for PCs if they open accounts, Davies said.

"It's actually a cheaper way to acquire a customer," he said.

And learning business applications isn't generally viewed as bad among educators in emerging markets, Davies said. Often, it's what they want to teach kids.

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COST OF PCs
The problem facing Africa is not the cost of PCs but the cost of internet bandwidth. Millions of people have access to used computers some as cheap as $50, however internet access is prohibitively expensive for both individuals and institutions because most internet connections use expensive satellite communications.

I run an internet cafe in Africa but live in the United States. I pay $1800 a month for satellite internet access in Africa but only $45 for the same amount of bandwidth for my home in the US. This has not stopped people from flocking to the cafe because the young of Africa are information hungry.

What Africa needs are many undersea fiber-optic cables connecting the continent with Europe and North America. The availability of PCs will take care of itself if bandwidth is a lot cheaper than it is today. I wish these well intentioned but misguided charity attempts will address the real issues and rely less on conventional wisdom. African PC users need cheap internet bandwidth. Cheap used PCs are already a dime a dozen.
Posted by judegab (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
COST OF PCs
The problem facing Africa is not the cost of PCs but the cost of internet bandwidth. Millions of people have access to used computers some as cheap as $50, however internet access is prohibitively expensive for both individuals and institutions because most internet connections use expensive satellite communications.

I run an internet cafe in Africa but live in the United States. I pay $1800 a month for satellite internet access in Africa but only $45 for the same amount of bandwidth for my home in the US. This has not stopped people from flocking to the cafe because the young of Africa are information hungry.

What Africa needs are many undersea fiber-optic cables connecting the continent with Europe and North America. The availability of PCs will take care of itself if bandwidth is a lot cheaper than it is today. I wish these well intentioned but misguided charity attempts will address the real issues and rely less on conventional wisdom. African PC users need cheap internet bandwidth. Cheap used PCs are already a dime a dozen.
Posted by judegab (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What about Free
I know the people behind OLPC are intelligent, but so are the people saying its wrong...and I'm going to side and say its wrong.

$150, and $1500, and $150,000 are all relevant. As the article stated, in a market economy, you can give a computer away for opening an account...in that instance it was cheaper to acquire a customer with the giveaway, than other methods.

By the same token, I already pay about $1200 per year to an emerging economy...of course I'm a small player, but I'm not alone. The person I pay, has a computer, has bought a flat screen monitor...she buys the things she wants, and needs. She can afford it, when her neighbors cannot, because she has a job.

It's free trade that fixes this issue in a real way.

The problem with these old liberals is they don't get it. You don't educate people and then watch the money flow in. The Soviet Union was highly educated...more so than most of the earth, and the money flew out of the country, and people went to near starvation levels, when the Soviet Union broke up.

Education is not the answer! Sounds trade policy is....then education will follow. Thats the way things work. The OLPC people, are blinded by a fantasy.
Posted by rdupuy11 (908 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What about Free
I know the people behind OLPC are intelligent, but so are the people saying its wrong...and I'm going to side and say its wrong.

$150, and $1500, and $150,000 are all relevant. As the article stated, in a market economy, you can give a computer away for opening an account...in that instance it was cheaper to acquire a customer with the giveaway, than other methods.

By the same token, I already pay about $1200 per year to an emerging economy...of course I'm a small player, but I'm not alone. The person I pay, has a computer, has bought a flat screen monitor...she buys the things she wants, and needs. She can afford it, when her neighbors cannot, because she has a job.

It's free trade that fixes this issue in a real way.

The problem with these old liberals is they don't get it. You don't educate people and then watch the money flow in. The Soviet Union was highly educated...more so than most of the earth, and the money flew out of the country, and people went to near starvation levels, when the Soviet Union broke up.

Education is not the answer! Sounds trade policy is....then education will follow. Thats the way things work. The OLPC people, are blinded by a fantasy.
Posted by rdupuy11 (908 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Need work
Dear God those little kids will go blind trying to look at that little screen not good for typing (unless we want train them to be the cheap tech support of the future) and also a cheap piece of crap for gaming, come on stupid tech guys those are children not morons they will find the Net.
Posted by boriken48 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Need work
Dear God those little kids will go blind trying to look at that little screen not good for typing (unless we want train them to be the cheap tech support of the future) and also a cheap piece of crap for gaming, come on stupid tech guys those are children not morons they will find the Net.
Posted by boriken48 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Teaching Excel to 6 year old kids is not criminal!
Teaching Excel to 6 year old kids is not criminal!

Excel is a tool that let's them experiment with numbers. It is one of many, and my 12 years old child was not hurt by playing with numbers in Excel when he was 6 years old. It just taught him to think of numbers and computations as objects and not to think of computations as tasks which is what schools teach, and which is the main reason for my engineering college students failures in calculus and algebra.

Of course Excel is just one tool. Teaching the RGB model is a good tool. My younger kid understood it when he was 5 and since then he prefers it as getting the right color by manipulating components. The benefit for him is understanding the meaning of numbers. Another great tool for learning to manipulate numbers is the graphic interface to procedural textures in Art of Illusion" that allows more than just feeding fixed number triplets as RGB components. Kids should be provided with tools that require them to manipulate numbers to create the effects they want. And they should be provided with a variety of tools.

Finally: LOGO. Every child should learn some LOGO as early as possible. But LOGO is geared at those good at manipulating text. Some kids would benefit more from graphic tools that manipulate numbers and abstract objects. Not all kids are equal.
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Teaching Excel to 6 year old kids is not criminal!
Teaching Excel to 6 year old kids is not criminal!

Excel is a tool that let's them experiment with numbers. It is one of many, and my 12 years old child was not hurt by playing with numbers in Excel when he was 6 years old. It just taught him to think of numbers and computations as objects and not to think of computations as tasks which is what schools teach, and which is the main reason for my engineering college students failures in calculus and algebra.

Of course Excel is just one tool. Teaching the RGB model is a good tool. My younger kid understood it when he was 5 and since then he prefers it as getting the right color by manipulating components. The benefit for him is understanding the meaning of numbers. Another great tool for learning to manipulate numbers is the graphic interface to procedural textures in Art of Illusion" that allows more than just feeding fixed number triplets as RGB components. Kids should be provided with tools that require them to manipulate numbers to create the effects they want. And they should be provided with a variety of tools.

Finally: LOGO. Every child should learn some LOGO as early as possible. But LOGO is geared at those good at manipulating text. Some kids would benefit more from graphic tools that manipulate numbers and abstract objects. Not all kids are equal.
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vision???
As if Intel was REALLY concerned about jobs in developping nations.

Intel wants to sell Intel. Intel wants to make sure that when there's enough Intel devices out there, users will more than likely replace their obsolete hardware with another Intel platform device.

This is business. It's OK.

What is not, is talk about vision. jobs, helping, etc. If Intel really wants to help, let them put some money from their billions of dollars of profit to local projects (not manufacturing Intel hardware) for water, surgery, agriculture, etc.

Who are they kidding?
Posted by jmdunys (49 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vision???
As if Intel was REALLY concerned about jobs in developping nations.

Intel wants to sell Intel. Intel wants to make sure that when there's enough Intel devices out there, users will more than likely replace their obsolete hardware with another Intel platform device.

This is business. It's OK.

What is not, is talk about vision. jobs, helping, etc. If Intel really wants to help, let them put some money from their billions of dollars of profit to local projects (not manufacturing Intel hardware) for water, surgery, agriculture, etc.

Who are they kidding?
Posted by jmdunys (49 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hope this works
This needs to work it's been so long in the development process it just has to work

Josh Chandler
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.techoriphic.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.techoriphic.com</a>
Posted by jchandler15 (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hope this works
This needs to work it's been so long in the development process it just has to work

Josh Chandler
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.techoriphic.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.techoriphic.com</a>
Posted by jchandler15 (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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