Nigeria and OX

Just a small buzz from the blogosphere.  In the reader today i got two posts featuring both Nigeria and XO.

The first post, from OLPC-news, is telling a story of US-based Nigerian-owned company suing OLPC for supposedly patent infringement of their multilingual keyboard technology.  The other, from tech.blorge, is telling a story of a drastic change in attitude of Nigerian government to OLPC initiative (from intentions of buying a million laptops, to complete rejection of the basic idea of the program).

None of these is shocking news, but nevertheless i found the coincidence intriguing.


2 Responses to “Nigeria and OX”

  1. lisa Says:

    Just an intriguing coincidence… What do you really think is happening?

    The OLPC has always been too much a top-down initiative, regardless of whether it was Negroponte and MIT at the top or the Nigerian govt. Credit to Negroponte for the pure innovation, but unfortunately it seems that there was far too little consulting done on the ground; there was evidently not much feeling of ownership of the initiative by people who were to end up buying/using these laptops.

  2. Dima Says:

    I think the particular case is indeed a coincidence… unless of course Nigerian people decided to eliminate the OLPC project in any possible way :)

    I think that the more visible OLPC will become the more mixed feedbacks we will see. If MS, Intel, and others share my vision about the developing countries being the future drivers of the ICT industry (even in 20-30 years perspective), these market powers will start playing in shaping perceptions of the OLPC among the decision makers and the general public. It is only natural, because it is competition. And i believe that the political reaction is closely related to the market forces.

    Here, just a quick search in for the words “Nigeria” and “Microsoft” brought this article telling a story of Microsoft’s contribution to Nigerian economy. Among everything else we are talking about 15 million jobs in Microsoft and its “ecosystem”. How do you think political figures would react to something that has any potential threat on that?

    As to top-down approach of OLPC to technology development, you are probably right, but i really don’t have enough knowledge about it. I do think, however, that applied to the entire project, the top-down here can be split among different direction. First the development, the distribution, and the implementation are different phases and top-down or bottom-up could happen or not in each one of those. Then there is also a division between perceived users. For the laptop itself these are children, but for the project these are governments. So there are different players involved at different stages. OLPC may have been very attentive to the users while developing the technical solutions, but as you said it did not manage to create enough grassroots infrastructure to insure efficient distribution. Does it make sense?

    I think the main challenge for OLPC will be the actual implementation of these machines. If thousands of laptops will be delivered, but not used, it would be a real fiasco. And i think at this stage it is more important to make people involved on the ground. Don’t you think?

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