The United Nations on Thursday lent its support to a project which aims to ship inexpensive, hand-cranked laptops to school-aged children worldwide.

Kemal Dervis, head of the U.N. Development Program, will sign a memorandum of understanding Saturday with Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of One Laptop per Child, on the $100 laptop project, at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting.

The program aims to ship 1 million units by the end of next year to sell to governments at cost for distribution to school children and teachers.

UNDP will work with Negroponte's organization to deliver "technology and resources to targeted schools in the least developed countries," the U.N. agency said in a statement.

Negroponte wants to start shipping the cheap laptop, which is to have wireless network access and a hand-crank to provide electricity, later this year. The aim is to have governments or donors buy them and give full ownership to the children.

Negroponte, who is also chairman of the MIT Media Lab, has said he expects to sell 1 million of them to Brazil, Thailand, Egypt and Nigeria.

The laptop is expected to run on an open-source operating system, such as Linux.

The devices will be lime green in color, with a yellow hand crank, to make them appealing to children and, so the thinking goes, to fend off potential thieves.