CherryPal Africa: A $99 Netbook for Developing Countries

The OLPC project has been aiming to produce a $100 notebook for education in developing nations for years, but despite a lot of good intentions and some impressive technology, has not managed to hit that mythical price point. Now CherryPal says it has just the $99 price point with the CherryPal Africa, a small netbook with a 7-inch display aimed specifically at developing nations.

“At Cherrypal, we’re extremely conscious of the so-called ‘digital divide’,” said CherryPal founder Max Seybold, in a statement. “We’re constantly looking for ways to bridge that gap, and the Cherrypal Africa is a huge step in the right direction. Plus, everyone who has tried it has absolutely loved it!”

CherryPal Africa

Named the “Africa” in honor of the Ghana-based humanitarian group PAAJAF, the CherryPal Africa features a 7-inch display and runs either Linux or Windows CE. Under the hood, the system features a 400 Mhz processor, 256 MB of RAM, and 2 GB of flash-based storage. Other than that, specs and capabilities are slim. The OLPC project spent a lot of time and effort making an affordable, durable unit that can hold up to educational use in less-than-ideal classroom situations, and can form ad-hoc wireless mesh networks for collaborative computing. It’s not clear whether the build of the CherryPal Africa is up to education use in developing markets, or what sort of communications and application capabilities it might have—although CherryPal specifically calls out Internet browsing and word processing as capabilities. CherryPal also says the system is designed to use as little power as possible, and uses standardized components wherever possible to ease repair and maintenance.

CherryPal plans to sell the CherryPal Africa through its own online store—which, unfortunately as of this writing, appears to be offline. But if the CherryPal Africa can stand up to the rigors of use in developing markets—and offers compelling educational uses—CherryPal might just be doing its part to close that digital divide.

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