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UN: distributing sturdy, low-cost laptops to poor

UN agency to back project distributing sturdy, low-cost laptops in poor countries

Aiming to give poor communities access to the benefits of information technology, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has announced plans to support an innovative project which aims to put cheap and energy-efficient laptop computers in the hands of the world's most disadvantaged students.

The innovative $100 laptop project, designed to give children in developing countries access to the knowledge and educational tools that could lift them out of poverty, will take a step closer to realization on Saturday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

There, UNDP Adminstrator Kemal Dervis and Nicholas Negroponte, Chairman of One Laptop per Child, (OLPC), the non-profit organization set up to oversee the $100 Laptop project, will sign an agreement on working together with local and international partners to deliver the new technology to targeted schools in the least developed countries.

The $100 laptop is an inexpensive, robust computer, with open-source software, very low power consumption, and the capacity to be powered by hand cranking. It was unveiled at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunisia last November.

On that occasion, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the laptops an “impressive technical achievement” and said they were able to do almost everything that larger, more expensive computers could do, unlocking the “magic with each child, within each scientist, scholar or plain citizen-in-the-making.”

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