In today’s issue of Samedi Plus, one tiny article caught one of my eyes:
E-Inclusion Foundation: aubaine ou piège?
Le ministère de l’informatique a récemment mis sur pied un programme intitulé “E-Inclusion Foundation”. Destiné aux familles pauvres, il s’agit d’un programme de distribution d’ordinateurs “refurbished” qui ne sont plus utilisés par des pays développés.
Certains, pourtant, se demandent si une personne “computer illiterate” ne se retrouvera pris dans un engrenage négatif, dans le sens qu’il apprendra à travers des méthodes dépassées, qui ne sont plus utilisées dans le domaine de l’informatique.
I agree. But not because the computer is old as hinted.
The reason why I think this is not a good idea is that the computer is not important anymore. What is essential now is an Internet connection.
I wonder how many of those computer illiterates buying refurbished computers are rich enough to afford paying for a monthly ADSL subscription (please don’t mention 56k…)? Does it make sense to have a PC if you do not have an Internet connection? No! We’re in 2009 and everything interesting and valuable is online now.
In a certain way, I prefer the Net PC from Mauritius Telecom. It’s available at Rs 4300 with a monthly subscription of Rs 490. Thirty hours of broadband Internet connection are available monthly (and this is much better than nothing.) Unfortunately, it comes with Windows, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook Express, Internet Explorer and Adobe Reader only. Bloody hell! As if the whole idea is to create a bunch of secretaries!
What would be perfect is something like the Net PC but powered by Linux with an enormous collection of open source software preinstalled (including internet, office and multimedia software and compilers/interpreters.) I believe that solution would be close to perfect and will empower poor people much more than giving them old computers with no Internet connection or a Net PC with secretarial software only.
If only I was the current Minister of Information and Communication Technology…