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    More For Less

    Date published: 14 May 2006

    Evolution of the PC for Community initiative promises to increase the penetration of PCís and internet users at the Egyptian society.

    Adel Radwan had been wanting to buy his eighteen year old daughter a computer for some time, but he could not afford it. Although it was possible for him to pay for it in installments charged to his phone bill, he still could not afford the monthly costs, and could only afford to spend around 50 LE per month. It is Adel, and others like him, that the latest development in the PC for Community initiative was designed for. The new initiative, dubbed Ďthe Family Computerí, provides PCs at a cost ranging between 1,500 to 1,800 LE. All computers previously provided under the PC for Every Home initiative (part of the PC for Community scheme) had been high specification units, with prices ranging from 2,800 to 4,650 LE. However, MCIT found out that a large proportion of prospective users needed more basic specifications fit for beginners, students, or simple office use.

    To this end, Dr. Tarek Kamel, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, announced with Jean-Philippe Courtois, President of Microsoft International, the launch of a new low-cost and easy to use personal computer. The new computer is available to Egyptian families for a monthly installment in the range of 50 LE paid back normally over a period of forty months. The amount for the installment was identified by polls taken in the several provinces.

    The PCs will feature an Arabic version of Microsoft Windows XP Starter Edition, and will be totally compatible with beginnersí needs. The Window XP Starter Edition has been developed especially for Arab users by a group of the corporationís experts abroad. This has been achieved with the assistance of a development team placed in the companyís innovation center located in the Smart Village in Egypt. The new operating system is especially designed with detailed audio (Egyptian voiceover), video, and written description of all functions in order to assist first time users. The specifications and hardware have been identified to meet the basic needs of the largest sector of users with processors ranging from 1.0 to 2.13 GHz., memory of 128 to 256 MB, and a hard disk of 40 GB.

    In addition, the system features a highly detailed user manual to solve any operating problems the user might face. International hardware companies like Intel and Via are partners in the development of this new PC, and the computer is easily upgradeable by replacing the operating system with Windows XP Home Edition, or Windows XP Professional. Replacing the motherboard and the processor is also possible to improve performance.

    With this latest low-cost PC initiative, MCIT hopes to reach 40 to 50 percent of Egyptian families in all provinces within five to seven years. The PC for Every Home initiative has so far succeeded in distributing more than 250,000 PCs to low income Egyptian families.

    The new PC will also be offered through the installment programs sponsored by Banque Misr and the National Bank of Egypt.

    With the framework for the new PC now in place, MCIT is now working on providing all provinces with quality marketing, post sales, and maintenance services that will build confidence in the initiative and help reach targets.

    Launching low cost, easy to use computers is a big step towards developing an Egyptian Information Society and narrowing the digital gap. Such initiatives are implemented in cooperation with multinational software and hardware corporations, as well as local computer assembly companies within the framework of a public private partnership model. The objective of these partnerships is to extend the computer and internet usage across all different segments of the community, and to help improve the educational and professional levels of the users.

    This initiative will also support building a strong local IT industry that fulfills the needs of both local and regional markets with products. Already, offers have been presented by more than twelve companies participating in the Computer for Every Home initiative to assemble the new computer.

    Additionally, Intel is expected to present a new product that has been designed at the Intel Design Center in Egypt, which will be released in the local market next May. According to distribution levels, it will be produced by Egyptian hardware manufacturing companies. There will also be continued cooperation with VIA Technology to develop products that are compatible with the Egyptian market and encourage it to invest in the Egyptian market.

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