The Star (Nairobi)

10 February 2014

Kenya: Sh24 Billion Laptops Award Smells of Self-Interest

editorial

SOMETHING smells rotten about the award of the laptops tender to the Indian company Olive.

The 1.2 million laptops for this year's P1 entrants will cost Sh24 billion.

When the tender was opened on December 10, the lowest bidder was Hewlett Packard, a leading computer manufacturer, at Sh24.6 billion. Olive, an Indian service company with around 20 employees, bid Sh26.6 billion.

The government then allowed a 'best and final offer' where, miraculously, Olive came in cheapest at 24.1 billion, one per cent cheaper than HP.

Bizarrely Olive is not even an 'Original Equipment Manufacturer' as stipulated by the tender documents. It is likely to sub-contract production.

The whole laptops project has appeared illogical from the start. Why give seven-year-old children laptops? Can Kenya afford to buy laptops every year? Wouldn't it be more sensible to use this money to set up computer labs in all 20,000 primary schools to be used by every class? We have previously assumed that the Jubilee government was simply determined to fulfil an over-ambitious pledge in its election manifesto to give out laptops.

It now appears that its insistence on the laptops project has more to do with self-interest than the national interest.

Quote of the day: "Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes." - German playwright Bertolt Brecht was born on February 10, 1898.

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