Government of Kenya Seeks Laptop Suppliers for Public Schools

Computing

The government has started the search for companies to supply laptops for primary school pupils with a budget of up to Sh17.4 billion in the next one year. The ministry of Education Science and Technology on Friday put out an International Competitive Biding or supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of computing devices and solutions for ICT integration in education in primary schools.

The Principal Secretary in the ministry Belio Kipsang said the qualified companies are expected to make the devices available for use by January next year for all pupils joining class one. Kipsang said on the phone there is demand for an estimated 1 to 1.3 million laptops saying he would confirm the exact figure next week.

The government allocated Sh17.4 billion in this year's National Budget for the schools' laptops project. "It is intended that part of the proceeds of these funds will be applied to eligible payments under contracts for procurement of ICT integration in education portable computing devices for primary schools in Kenya," the tender advert read.

"The children should be able to get the devices by the time they are starting school in January next year," Kipsang said. The class one laptops project will require provision of the devices, connectivity, software to be used and also the content. The tender also advertised for printers and projectors suppliers. Already, local and multinational hardware and software makers have been positioning themselves for a piece of the cake.

For instance, in June, Microsoft president Jean-Philippe Courtois paid a courtesy call to President Kenyatta where the company offered to provide hardware, connectivity and software in the grand project. Microsoft was hoping to use its past working experience with government and education institutions in the Learning Schools Programme it has been running to score a deal.

This sparked outrage from its ICT industry competitors who were also hoping for a gain too. The local industry lobby group Telecommunications Service Providers Association of Kenya (Tespok) faulted the apparent exclusivity to Microsoft. Top Tespok members include Safariom, Airtel, Essar, Orange Telkom, Access Kenya, MTN business, Wananchi, Jamii Telecom and Seacom Kenya among others.

The association also raised concern that Microsoft might prefer to work with its global partners and leave local entrepreneurs out of the arrangement.