After a delay of nearly two years, Kenya’s Digital Literacy Programme is set to go ahead, with the opening of tender documents for the provision of 983,271 laptops set for tomorrow. The tender also includes the assembly and maintenance of these devices, which are set to fundamentally change how Kenya’s children will learn.
The Treasury has set aside 17 billion Kenya Shillings (US$ 166 million) for the programme, which will see Standard One children equipped with laptops. According to the ICT Authority, the first batch of 294,981 laptops and 23,951 teacher digital devices will be supplied to primary schools all over the country in July.
The Digital Literacy Programme was initiated in 2013 as part of a campaign promise by President Uhuru Kenyatta. However, implementation has stalled due to a hitch in the procurement process.
The Ministry of Education had awarded the tender for the provision of laptops to Indian original equipment manufacturer Olive Technology, but this was contested in court. As a result, the process was scrapped and the tendering process restarted.
25 companies submitted expressions of interest for the tender. Global tech giants are partnering with local universities to compete for the multibillion-shilling project. Strathmore University’s Research and Consultancy Centre has partnered with Haier, while Kenyatta University has partnered with BRCK, and the University of Nairobi has submitted a joint bid with Huawei.
Bid documents will be opened in the presence of the tenderers or their representatives at the ICT Authority Board Room in Nairobi on Friday morning.
One notable change from the previous bidding process is the introduction of a requirement for successful bidders to assemble the laptops locally to boost the nascent ICT manufacturing and assembly industry in Kenya. This ensures that there will be a transfer of skills to Kenyans working to assemble the devices, and maintenance will be made easier.
After the initial delivery of devices in July of 2016, another 10 per cent of the total number of gadgets required is expected to be supplied by September, followed by a similar number in November. Delivery of the devices will take place over the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 financial years.
The Digital Literacy Programme syllabus was inaugurated in December of 2015 by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, with the content and material designed for a universal platform. Kenya will become the second country in the East African region to introduce laptops for primary school education after Rwanda’s One Laptop Per Child project.