Ethiopian Millenium Gift Project

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Help needed

You do not have to be a programmer to make a difference. What you can, we need that. We need project coordinators, lawyers ,translators, testers, bug reporters, documentation writers, tutorial writers, artists, advocates, babysitters... . We need your experience and guidance. We need and highly value your input. And if you are also a programmer, well that's good, but it isn't essential. Put your name and your love on the greatest gift of the millennium to the Ethiopian people. Organize working groups in your areas, and help.

you can register (not mandatory) and start contributing.



Why do we need this project?

Most of the world is progressing at accelerated rate because of the digital revolution. If the children of Ethiopia should compete in any way with the rest of the world they need to use this tool. If the children of Ethiopia should benefit from the digital revolution this job has to be done. If we start the job soon we will finish it sooner. If we start late we will finish it later, in mean time the world will be way ahead of us. If one person does the job it would take him years, and the world that is already far away from us will be way far from us. If all of us participate we could finish the job sooner and save the productive life of millions of Ethiopian children that would have been wasted by ignorance. It is in our power to deliver this tool.

The obstacle

  • Not recognizing or understanding how useful the tool is.
    • Probably to over a million Ethiopians inside and out side the country use computers every day. Ethiopian online communities are one of the most active and numerous. Most of the Diaspora social and political activity is coordinated through the Internet.
  • Misconception about the difficulty, and once ability to participate on this project.
  • We have participated on meetings, fundraisers, projects with the hope some of our input would benefit our land and people in some way. We have done it for the love of the country, for the glory, to feel good…etc. Most projects produce nothing and most of the time we end up disappointed and disillusioned. May be you are an Ethiopian who is not satisfied with none of the above projects and meetings and you rather stay at home than participate on some thing you do not feel comfortable with.
  • This job is so easy to do for any one it is unbelievable. It benefits generations Ethiopians to come. It benefits us by healing our bruised egos by repeatedly failed projects. It is not an answer for every problem Ethiopia faces. But it is one piece of a solution we can all work on that surely will benefit Ethiopians. We as well as the future generation need this project to work as a community. It will bring us together as a community.

The objective of EMGP and expectations

The objective of EMGP is to build the capacity of Ethiopia to provide effective educational tools and solutions to Ethiopian chlderen.

EMGP phases

The Ethiopian Millennium project will have 3 phases

The Development phase

  • Period: from the present time to Ethiopian calendar year 2000
  • Work to be done:
    • Building the development infrastructure.
    • Active development of the tools.
    • Building support infrastructure.
    • Preparing the first phase of products to be delivered to the users.

The Support and strengthening phase

  • Period: 2000-2010
  • work to be done
    • Further development of the tools
    • Supporting the tools that are delivered
    • Expanding the delivery to 100% of the population
    • Building the support structure so that it becomes self sustaining

The happily ever after phase

  • Period: 2010-
  • Work to be done:
    • The project is expected to have a fully functioning dynamic echo system that needs little or no centralised structure.

የሺህ ዓመት ስጦታ ኢትዮጵያ A gift that lasts a thousand year

This project organizes a massive localization and translation project with the participation of all capable Ethiopians, free and open source software developers, institutions such as universities and colleges. Helping with organizing, coding, translating, identifying recipients and donors and contributing money.

The millennium gift project prepares a gift of one OLPC computer by one travelling Ethiopian for one Ethiopian child\class to be presented for the millennium celebration.

The software to be localized



  • Schools
  • Classes
  • Students

Which language or languages are to be used?

Which language or languages are to be used? There are about 81 languages presently spoken in Ethiopia, but we are not going to target all of them. Though there are many factors that are going to decide which languages are going to be available for the Ethiopian millennium, the number of volunteers committing to the project will be the deciding factor. Everyone should have the chance to work on his/her own language. These are the 10 languages with the most speakers:

  1. Amharic
  2. Afan Oromo
  3. Welayta (and related languages)
  4. Tigraway
  5. Somali
  6. Gurage
  7. Sidama
  8. Afar
  9. Hadiyya (and Related languages)
  10. Kafa (and related languages)

A realistic goal for the millennium would be a complete Amharic version and partially complete Afan Oromo, Wolayta and Tigraway versions.

Do they all use the Ethiopic script? Except Afan Oromo, which has officially been using the Latin script since 1991, all languages use the Ethiopic script, but my guess is there will be people who would like to contribute to an Afan Oromo Ethiopic version too. We will see. If the tools are provided, the volunteers will show which direction the project will go.--Teferra 13:41, 27 May 2006 (EDT)

How to go about it

This is a simple idea. And the success of the project depends in keeping it simple. simple ideas are doable. simple ideas produce grand results. We have discussed above what to be done. Here we will discuss how we do it. Please add your ideas and suggestions. Share your Exploits and success, your experience.

The No-Font Solution

The No-Font solution will support all languages of Ethiopia on day 1.

First of all, the keyboard of the No-Font Solution will have completely blank keycaps. They could either be bare plastic, or they could be covered with very durable white paint which the user can scratch away to draw a glyph on the key. Spare keys should go with every shipment to allow for correcting mistakes in customization.

The software for the no-font solution, will be focussed around the Evince Ebook reader and DJVU support. Any Ethiopian book, whether printed or handwritten, can be scanned into DJVU format and read with Evince. Additional software support is needed to change program menus to use bitmapped images rather than fonts. Icons will be quickly learned if the kids have a reference card handy. The messaging software needs to be customized to only use icons (bitmapped images) to control it, and no text mode at all. All messages will be SVG. It will be handy to have a shortcut to set the pen to a thick round black shape appropriate for writing text.

95% of this is already in place, it just needs some modifications. Later on, when there are functional fonts for an Ethiopian language, the machines can be upgraded to full text support as well.


Though all of the parts are equally important the bulk of time and volunteer resource is going to be spent on the translation work. The translation resources and methods will be discussed under this title.

educational content creation


to be continued

Links relevant to this project

project participation sites

sites that directly affect this project

relevant sites

African localisation