One Million Laptops for Kenyan University Students


The Government of Kenya is offering 1 million laptops to Kenyan university students thanks to a $114 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA). The One Million Computer Initiative also known as 'Wezesha' (a Swahili word that means 'to enable') is intended to increase access to the Internet and usage of computers, with all associated development impact benefits.

Yet the Kenya ICT Board, who is managing this project, has published a Phase One Tender that completely excludes OLPC's laptop quiver from consideration.

Neither the XO-1, XO-1.5, nor XO-HS computers will meet the required specs:

So while OLPC has designs on an older market with the XO-HS, it seems that Kenya will be buying laptops that pack more functionality. In fact, the "Good" specs map to the Classmate PC.

This is not necessarily bad news - OLPC hasn't targeted university students. And you could even put a positive spin on this announcement - proof that OLPC has done a yeoman's job in pushing the one laptop per student concept, and countries are adopting complete computer saturation as a means for educational advancement.

Update: Re-reading this post, I don't think I made the good news point as well as I could. I do really think its good for OLPC that Kenya is going for 1:1 saturation - proof that the olpc idea is catching on. And its good for OLPC that Kenya is not considering XO laptops for college students - its not the right computer for university-level learning and using the wrong ICT tool is as bad (or worse) than not using an ICT tool at all.


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Very irresponsible article. Any analysis of the Wezesha project would have been helpful.

Instead the majority of the article criticizes olpc for not meeting the project's needs. Only in the final paragraph do you mention "Oh, by the way olpc is not even aiming for this market."

Responsible journalism holds organizations responsible for living up to their promises, not living up to what you wish they would do.

Actually, I don't criticize OLPC for not being part of this - thank god the XO isn't seen as the ultimate tool for all ages as that would lead to user dissapointment and a degridation of the 1:1 idea.

If there is criticism to be given it's on the lack of information about Kenya's program goals and process. I too want an analysis of Wezesha.

Hehe, yeah, this headline is indeed somewhat confusing... :-D

And I agree that the XO isn't necessarily the most suited tool for university students but it's definitely great to see Kenya take these steps to equip their students with laptops.

One last interesting note: The table only speaks about an "Operating System", there's no mention of Windows or Windows compatible software here (unless you count anti-virus programs that is;-).

True, the OS is open for Linux and the "Good" specs match many netbook models. Overall, a nice, wide open RFP.

titles like that support the belief that you really try to put down OLPC in any possible way you can.
The info itself is *totally* unrelated to OLPC. Kanya decides to give vouchers to its university students to buy laptops. Good for them, but many other countries and districts did that already, some for high-school students too. Correctly these were not reported here.
In this case it is and with a title that implies that this is/was an OLPC target program and is good that OLPC is not selected...
I guess readership and traffic is what you are after but "crying wolf" is going to bring the exact opposite result at the end.
Is never too late to change the title at least to something like "Is the XO appropriate for University students? Kanya things not" (and so everybody else of course :-).

Kenya going olpc is related to OLPC, but I get your point. How's the new title?


The specs for the laptops I would suggest are a little misleading. Anyone who has used a Gnu system would say it requires lower specs than a comparable MS/X86 system. And many students today use netbooks. So if a student would use a netbook which has a screen smaller than the spec, that would not fit. So the XO-1.5 would also not fit. Obviously Gnu does not need/use a antivirus program. And you can use abiword/gnumeric on a lower end system vs But it depends upon what the user plans to do with this computer. The xo-1.5 would fit a basic need to write documents, surf the web, compose and send emails and do a spreadsheet and even some python programming. Not to suggest that an XO-1.5 would be ideal but it would be a 'low end' system. The large HD in the spec is not needed for simple document writing, it sounds more useful for a college students mp3 and flv collection, so a few SDHC or USB drives would work. And when XO-1.75 appears, again the spec can not be compared accurately as ARM is not x86.

The 1M laptop initiative is fabulous, and it's a very good thing that they've started it. The same ministers are considering expanding the project to younger students, and have specifically looked at XOs for that market. I expect that if they continue the program in future years, they will have a similar tender with an XO mapping to one of their recommended categories.

When will we start recieving them laptops?

When will they start giving out them laptops?

Denis, the 1 Million Laptop program will probably take a year to implement - say start of school 2011. And they'll most likely be subsidized laptops, not free ones. But this is only my assumption.

can i get a decent second hand laptop below 25000 in nairobi?

Aki we need thse laptops,when r we going to recieve them?

i have bought a laptop from them and i must say it was a God sent scheme.

I really hope that the scheme continues for a long time to come.

I'm using a toshiba c660 which i bought from them and i can say this is the best deal i've ever got. People should stop hating

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