Wednesday, June 10, 2009

OLPC Kick-off Conference

Yesterday we saw Paul Kagame, Nicholas Negroponte, and a bunch of ministers from different African countries speak about OLPC. They're incredibly serious about it here, Rwanda is planning on deploying 120,000 laptops in the following months, Cameroon just got funding for 5,000 laptops from the Islamic development bank in Jiddah, and Uruguay is finishing its deployment to bring itself up to 400K laptops. Uruguay's story is pretty inspiring, Miguel Brechner who is the OLPC coordinator for Uruguay has really taken the OLPC principles to heart. Uruguay has quantifiable results, Miguel presented some powerpoints that showed that Uruguay has higher attendance now, the kids are not dropping out of school, etc. He also really emphasized including the teachers in everything - if you don't include the teachers, the project will fail. I was talking to Miguel afterward and he also told me that it was very important to roll alot of their own software for the XO. They can't depend on OLPC in America, because if there is a bug and even 10% of their laptops go down, that's 40,000 laptops! So I think that countries need to get up to a certain level of technical sophistication before they can roll out XO's completely.

It's also interesting to note that even though Uruguay has done a complete deployment of laptops to all their children, they still did it in stages. There were like 150K laptops handed out last year, and the rest handed out this year. So I guess my point is that OLPCorps is a step in the right direction because it's a small step to starting deployments in all these different countries.

Speaking of deployments, we are now officially going to Senegal. We might deploy in 2 deployments or just 1 (if it was just one we'd team up with Justin Burnett & Stephanie Selvick). We met Doudou Camara who is deploying to Gabon, but is from Senegal, and he gave us a bunch of great info and contacts. We've confirmed our deployment as going to Mboro, so that's chill.

Anyways, after the long conference, there was a traditional Rwandan dance performance and it was really fun. They should have Rwandan dancing in NYC!


  1. Take video of the dances and post it when you get back!

  2. Keep posting - we love to follow what's happening!