25 February 2018

Ethiopia: Indian Firms Win Right to Supply Nation With English Books

The books to be used for elementary schools are worth 730 million Br

Two Indian companies, Pitambra Books and Nova Publication, have offered the least amount to supply 52 million English textbooks and teachers guides to the Ministry of Education (MoE) for a cost of 730 million Br.

Being part of the second edition of the General Education Quality Improvement Programme (GEQIP II), which is financed by the World Bank Group, the books are expected to be used for the coming academic year in elementary schools.

The Ministry though announced earlier this month, its decision to pause signing a contract with Nova, which has been in the publishing business for over two decades. The Company supplied books which did not conform to the samples it had provided in another tender, according to Negusse Beyene, bureau head at the Ministry.

Members of the bidding committee further disclosed that the case of Nova is under discussion at the World Bank, with plans to hold the Company accountable for the previous tender.

"The Company did not file any complaint letters, unlike others who were deemed unqualified during the technical evaluation," said a team member, concerning the current tender for the books.

The international bid was announced on April 20, 2017, with 43 companies showing interest. Of these, only two were local - Mega Printing Plc and Yekatit Paper Converting Enterprise.

Only four companies did not make it past the preliminary evaluation, after 18 companies submitted their documents on July 28, 2017.

On August 1, 2017, it was announced that 10 companies had passed the technical stage, of which Pitambra and Nova had given the lowest offers.

The former, which was established in 2001, and has been printing textbooks for use in Ethiopia for seven years, offered around 265 million Br and 239 million Br to supply books for grades one through four in two lots. Its offer was less than that of other companies by 116.9 million Br and 24.7million Br for the first and second lots, respectively.

Nova which bid to supply 18.6 million books for grades five through eight, in two lots, offered 110.8 million Br and 105.1 million Br. The offers were lower by 98.8 million Br and 75.1 million Br than the next least price that was offered.

The fate of the last two lots Nova offered the least price on is uncertain, according to Alemtsehay Adem, procurement consultant for the Ministry.

"The WB has its procurement policy, and the case is being handled accordingly," she told Fortune. "The books for the first two lots though, will be distributed within five months of signing the contract with Pitambra."

The procurement is part of the 400 million dollar GEQIP II project, that aimed at improving the quality of general education in Ethiopia. Part of the education sector's development plan, its implementation period was designed to expire in July of this year, according to Negussie.

The Ministry prints books for schools administered by the federal government, while regional education bureaus are responsible for preparing content and printing the books for elementary schools. Nonetheless, the books will be distributed to regional schools as English is a common course, according to Negussie.

A month ago, the Oromia Education Bureau discarded three million textbooks, valued at 27 million Br after finding errors and vague descriptions. They were meant to be distributed to close to 16,000 schools across the region.

Neither Pitambra Books nor Nova Publication replied to the email enquiries from Fortune.

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