Thanks for the information (and best of luck with this project!).
Responding quickly to one item:
I didn't actually say that I don't think there are compelling reasons to choose tablets over laptops. To the contrary: I actually think that there *are* indeed potentially some very good reasons why you might chose to go the tablet route (or the laptop route, for that matter). What I was meaning to convey was that I don't typically hear these reasons presented as part of the rationale behind making this choice of technology. Why not? Maybe the answers are so obvious ... but I usually don't get the sense that that is the case, at least in the conversations and scenarios in which I typically find myself. Instead, the reason seems to be that the tablet is the 'newest' device on offer, and new automatically means better. This isn't to say that the choice itself is wrong. It's always possible to make the right decision for the wrong reasons -- or indeed for no reason at all!
A number of the things you mention in favor of tablets in the ICT4RED project related to usability don't, in my opinion, need *only* relate to tablets. There is no reason you can't design laptops (or whatever device) that are easy to use as well. In a way, I wonder if the 'new' form factor of a tablet allows designers to dispense with some of the complexity that people now expect (for better or worse) in laptops. (I put have deliberately put 'new' in quotation marks here, as I recognize that this is not actually terribly new in a chronological sense, just that it is 'new' in the sense of being a dominant relevant choice for consumers). That said, I do take your point (even if I have grumbled to myself about the very poor usaibility of some of the low cost tablets that have been demo'ed for me recently).
I do think your point about the transition from phone to tablet is an important one -- both from the perspectives of users *and* designers. Most young people today in Africa (if not the world) will first interact with a phone before they interact with a laptop or desktop, and the commonalities in usability between phones and tablets is important. One of the advantages that many user interface designers who work on tablets have, I think, is that they are not wedded to many of the 'old' UI paradigms that continue to plague the experiens of many people who use laptops. Some of them also probably came from, or simultaneously work in, UI design for phones, and bring with them ideas about simplicity that the small screen and limited input mechanisms of that device compell.
I look forward to following the learnings from the ICT4RED project!