COMPUTING

Dell to partner with Uganda firm to offer low-priced laptops to students

Computer maker, Dell is partnering with Xavier Group, a local consultancy firm which has started an initiative that will see university students and tertiary institutions in Uganda get low-priced laptops.

The initiative, which kicks off this month will see 35,000 laptops going for pocket-friendly prices. East African Business Week Correspondent Paul Mwijagye talked to the Chief Executive of Xavier Group, David Magezi about the project and the power of this partnership

Q: Why did you come up with this initiative?

A: Being a researcher, I know the importance of computers and Internet in keeping students and their lecturers informed of what is happening in the academia. Students and lecturers in Uganda are disadvantaged and I felt that for us to produce competitive students who would be relevant in today's world of technology, we needed to provide them with pocket friendly laptops. Having studied in the US and England where I had a 24-hour Internet connection, it helped me a lot with my research.

Q: How did Dell come to partner with Xavier Group in this initiative?

A: I am the one who came up with the idea and approached different computer manufacturers such as Acer, Dell and HP. I asked them if they could design a price-friendly laptop for students and staff in institutions of higher learning in Uganda. Dell agreed to design the laptop at $350 (UShs700, 000). Dell also had a similar initiative in South Africa where they gave out over 50,000 laptops at the University of Johannesburg. Uganda will be the second country in Africa to benefit from this programme. They were planning to do the same project in Angola but I convinced them to come to Uganda.

Q: How many partners are you working with in this project?

A: The partners involved in this project include Xavier Group, the National Council of Higher Education (NCHE) and Mitsuni (Dell partners for East Africa). I have approached uganda telecom to put up hotspots in universities where students can access cheap and faster internet. I also approached Stanbic Bank to provide loans for students who want to purchase the laptops. The bank will pay Dell and then students will service the loans in about 4- 5 semesters.

Q: How will students get the laptops and how much will it cost?

A: There will be forms for universities interested. I am working with NCHE who have mobilized these institutions. NCHE will also organise a meeting with university chancellors, vice chancellors and headS of IT departments in all universities and tertiary institutions registered with the NCHE. Dell senior executives will also make a presentation about the project to the stakeholders. Thereafter, Dell staff will go to universities that will participate to train students. It will only take less than 7 weeks for a student to get the laptop after filling the forms and each laptop will cost only $350 (Shs700, 000). These laptops would cost $900 (UShs1800, 000) if they are not discounted.

Q: How are students going to benefit from the initiative?

A: This project is going to help students become competitive in their careers. They will get brand new original laptops which will help them do their research using the internet. It will also ease communication for them since it is cheaper compared to the cost of sending an SMS. Nowadays university students are required to type their coursework and instead of spending money at a secretarial bureau, the laptops will help in that area. Above all, it will help prepare students for their work places since there is no job now that does not require computer skills.

East African Business Week

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