Carlos Slim  (Source: Keith Dannemiller/Corbis)
One of the richest people in the world is now doing his part to help get technology in the hands of the poor

Mexican telecom billionaire Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world, recently announced his plan to offer "hundreds of thousands" of notebooks to children in Mexico.  He is ready to contribute up to $70 million to the program in 2007.

Slim initially promised as many as 250,000 low-cost notebooks this year and the possibility of as many as 1 million notebooks in 2008 -- with an average cost of $250 to $300 each.  Slim expects the cost of the notebooks to lower over time, but did not offer specific estimates. 

The notebooks will first be offered to schools and libraries, at which point Slim expects to extend the offer out even further.  Slim noted this "digital education" could be the key to help struggling Mexicans get a better education.

"The scheme in public libraries would be for them to lend them out, like books," Slim said.

Slim's Telefonos de Mexico, also known as Telmex, would help the libraries and schools create wireless networks for all of the notebooks.

According to Reuters, Slim's estimated $67.8 billion officially makes him the richest man in the world, overtaking Microsoft's Bill Gates.  Even as the likely world's richest person, Slim will donate as he sees fit -- noting that he will not compete with Bill and Melinda Gates in a philanthropy competition.

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