The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is handing out the laptops at the opening of the Youth Forum, a branch of its ITU Telecom Asia 2008 conference, as part of its effort to increase access to cheap information and communications technology across the world. Some 100 XO laptops are being donated by One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), the non-profit organization which developed and manufactured the machines, continuing its long-standing partnership with the ITU in the “Connect the World” initiative. “ITU is committed to connecting the world,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré. “And to achieve this goal, affordable devices have to be made available for people everywhere to access the benefits of a knowledge-based information society,” Dr. Touré added. The low-cost and child-friendly XO computer, designed to inspire the cognitive development of children, has environmental safeguards as well as an innovative security system that protects children from cyber threats and the laptop from theft. At the launch of the prototype OLPC at the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan lauded the initiative as a “truly moving expression of global solidarity,” adding the laptop could unlock the “magic within each child, within each scientist, scholar or plain citizen-in-the-making.” 28 August 2008The United Nations technology agency announced today that it will give away free laptops to each of the young participants attending its Asia conference in Bangkok this weekend.