Yesterday Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced their first domestically-produced laptop, the Doel. Produced by a state-owned telephone company, Telephone Shilpa Sangstha, the laptop will have four different models, but it is the low-end model, the 10,000 Taka or $130 USD model, that will run an unspecified version of Android.
The Doel’s “primary model” (likely the basic model running Android) has the following specs:
- 800 MHz VIA processor with 512 MB RAM
- 10.1″ LCD screen, 1024 x 600
- 16 GB internal flash memory
- SD card slot, 2 USB ports
Currently Telephone Shilpa Sangstha is only domestically producing 10% of the components used in the Doel laptop range. But their managing director, Mohammad Ismail, has said that within 6 months, they plan to produce 60% of the Doel laptop components.
Similar to the project behind the $35 Android tablet that India recently released, these inexpensive Doel laptops are geared toward increasing computer literacy in Bangladesh. Initially, government employees will be getting the Doel laptops, but soon afterwards, a plan for distribution to students and the general public will follow.
The Digital Bangladesh project has a goal that by 2021, the entire country will be digitally connected. However, opponents to the project say that Bangladesh’s internet connectivity is currently rather poor, and distribution of these Doel laptops before a proper infrastructure is in place will do nothing to improve that fact.
Be that as it may, it’s great to see Android and other OSes being used in developing countries for projects aimed at increasing computer literacy. Access to the internet has moved from a luxury to a necessity. The sooner people all over the world are able to take advantage of internet connectivity, the better.