While ogling One Laptop Per Child's revolutionary dual mode screen Walter Bender revealed a revolutionary idea about OLPC's overall goal.
Nicholas Negroponte has always said he wants a
$100 laptop CM1 2B1 XO Children's Machine for every child in the developing world. And Walter Bender explained the numbers behind that goal.
OLPC estimates that there are 1 billion 6-16 year olds in the developing world. If it were to equip every 6 year old, each year, OLPC would need 100 million Children's Machines (10% of 1 billion) and to replace each OLPC XO at 11 years old would add another 100 million.
200 million laptops would cost $20 Billion dollars, give or take a few hundred million dollars. Add in $10 Billion for infrastructure and OLPC estimates it would need around $30 Billion per to achieve its goal.
$30 Billion in income each year. $30 Billion Dollars!!
In perspective, Intel's income last year was $35 Billion and it's number 49 on the Fortune 500. The World Bank only lent $23 Billion in 2005 and it's the premier multilateral financier. Note those are loans too, not grants, and borrowing countries are expected to repay the loans.
And what about those countries that One Laptop Per Child is targeting? Argentina would need to spend half of its non-salary education budget for only 10% of the student body per year. Nigeria would need to spend 73% of its budget to reach full One Laptop Per Nigerian Child penetration.
So while I find the concept of One Laptop For Every Child amazing and alluring, $30 Billion dollars, and that's Billion with a "B", is still $30 Billion dollars, no matter the good intentions.
And $30 Billion doesn't fit into a tin cup.