Friday, December 12, 2008

poverty and OLPC affordability

Apart from Australia and DR Congo (included as benchmarks) the following are most of countries to which the OLPC has already been deployed in significant numbers or to which there are reported plans for significant deployments in the near future. The figures are in Purchasing Power Parity PPP$ (adjusted income per person) of selected countries. The data is from the Gapminder site [1]

USA 31,133
Australia 24,219
Uruguay 8,653
Mexico 7,762
Columbia 5,877
Peru 4,670
Papua New Guinea 1869
Ghana 1515
Mongolia 1285
Mali 1084
Nepal 1052
Rwanda 983
Ethiopia 824
Afghanistan 740
Haiti 709
DR Congo (poorest) 230

Here are some figures of the numbers of XOs deployed to some of these countries [2] [3]:

Uruguay 130,000
Peru 70,000
Mexico 50,000
Birmingham, USA 10,000

Colombia is reported to be about to buy 20,000 and Ghana is reported to be about to buy 10,000.

In addition, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Haiti, Mongolia, Afghanistan have approx 5,000 XOs each provided by the Give1-Get1 program.

So far, the governments which have purchased large quantities (not just pilots and not recipients of the G1G1 – Give one, Get one - scheme) of XO’s are Uruguay, Peru and Mexico.

These Latin American countries are not the poorest in the world. Many African countries are the poorest along with some Asian countries. These countries are roughly 5-10x poorer than those which have actually purchased the OLPC

Each OLPC or XO costs about $180 per person. The Total Cost of Ownership is higher and has been estimated at about $450 over a five year period (disputed figure)

Apart from OLPC, other possible information technologies come to mind for poor countries, which are being used for education:

OMPT (one media player per teacher) - One portable media player with speakers and power source costs as little as $50. This small cost can change a classroom of 40 or 50 individual lives

Mobile phones - for example, see the MobileED project

Telecenters - "I found computers in all the centers, but bicycles, books, cell phones, community radio stations, and video tapes were also used to obtain and share information" (olpc-news article by Robert Kozma)

Internet Kiosks - A day in the life of a village kiosk operator in India

I am not suggesting that the OLPC is not a great technology for the poor children of the world. They need personal computers for maximum benefit. But due to the economic bottom line for some countries at the moment it is too much to expect that they will get there without assistance. Also we need to consider transition technologies like the above to bridge the gap.

Another related issue is the best method(s) of electricity generation for poor countries. This is held over for another article.

Reference / Footnotes:

[1] Gapminder provides some great visual representations of dry statistic

[2] OLPC Community News attachment, July 6, 2008 shows a graph of deployments at that time

[3] OLPC:News provides regular information about deployments


Tony Forster said...

"Apart from OLPC, other possible information technologies come to mind for poor countries, which are being used for education"

Another is People First Network, set up by David Leeming of OLPC Oceania

People First Network is a rural networking project that promotes rural development and peace building by enabling affordable and sustainable rural connectivity and facilitating information exchange between stakeholders and communities across the Solomon Islands. It has established a growing rural communications system based on wireless email networking, in the HF band, and deployed with full community ownership.

The Solomon Islands have a PPP of $1538

Tony Forster said...

video of People First Network

Tony Forster said...

plakboek said...

An interesting thought .. if a teacher could choose between a mobile phone and a laptop, my guess is that they would go with the phone. It is easy for us to forget the impact that the telephone has. I recall TED talk where it was used to even move money with out going though a bank.

Some good calculations Bill, thanks for sharing this.