When the idea of a $100 laptop was first floated, I think around 2003, it was a great thing…a laptop for $100? Well, the idea was One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). The first laptop that came out of that line was…well… not impressive.
It took so long and in the process, Chinese manufacturers proved that Africa could spend more than $100 to get a laptop. I am sure the Kenya ICT Board has better stats on how many university and college students have benefitted from subsidized laptops under Wezesha project and not to count the many people who have bought net books, subsidized or not. People buy the stuff, yet we have the tendency to feel that people want aid.
That is what I was rather shocked to read this story of how OLPC will be dropped from helicopters. It doesnt mention that it will happen in Africa but the quote of the famous primitive movie, the gods must be crazy, made it rather obvious.
So, lets proceed with the image of the Namibian guy who was the main character in the movie and the things he did and you havent watched, you can check it out on youtube.
Why on earth would anyone drop laptops from a helicopter? Is it to prove they are durable and can sustain the drop, that there are no roads, that the people are so remote that nothing gets there?
The story says that the OLPC has helped in Peru, does it mean they were drops or how was it done?
By dropping them, it means that the laptops will be free, or maybe the providers dont care if they are used or not. I can imagine the laptops falling from the sky in grazing fields of Marsabit, and you can picture a Borana boy, girl, man or woman picking it up and wondering whether the gadget carries relief food inside.
Sorry Negroponte and co. the only heli drops we have is of relief food and that is because of insecurity not because people are so eager to get tech savvy they would go to any lengths.
But lets assume that the laptops will do great service to us the rural folks, when the helicopter lands a year later, where will they start, door to door or manyatta to manyatta, asking what happened a year ago?
Am also wrong in assuming that the drops will be in remote areas as if only the remote areas have no access, how about the urban or near urban areas? If you are desperate that you will drop the laptops, dont, give them to a bunch of people in Nairobi, even sell them at a small fee and business will thrive.
Just like @whiteafrican wondered, would such a drop be considered in the poor areas in the US? Or every child in the US can afford a laptop? Maybe. I would love some stats on how the drops have worked in North America and western Europe. But again, they will say OLPC is for developing countries.
Its good that you are developing OLPC but dont patronize so much that people feel insulted. For more info on some of those condescending issues, read @whiteafrican blogpost.
Ask mobile companies how they are making money from the so called rural, remote, poor areas.
Maybe the helicopter drops were not meant for Africa, in which case this post is misplaced 🙂