Remember back in the ’80s when Libya was a rogue nation, bent on war with the US? Not so much anymore. In fact, General el-Qaddafi has ponied up $250 million to make Libya the first nation to close a deal with the One Laptop Per Child program. That includes 1.2 million of the cute little WiFi-having laptops, one for every school kid in Libya. That is awesome.
It also includes satellite Internet access, servers for every school, technical help and installation. The laptops come in at $150 each for the first units, which start production some time next year, with the prices dropping as production ramps up, hopefully hitting the $100 goal. The OLPC program is headed up by Nicholas Negroponte of MIT as a way to bridge the digital divide and bring non-Westernized countries up to par in the Information Age.
In addition to supplying Libya’s children with the hand-cranked computers, Negroponte and el-Qaddafi discussed the possibility of Libya subsidizing similar programs for its poorer neighbors. This is indeed a new Libya, and its actions might hopefully get the ball rolling for other nations that have expressed interest, such as Brazil, Nigeria and Thailand.