Indian firm Olive Telecommunications PVT Ltd has been awarded the tender to supply laptops to the government for the laptops for standard one pupils program. Olive Telecommunications was awarded the tender on the basis of having placed the lowest bid according to Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi. Its bid of Ksh 22 billion was the lowest in a tendering process that attracted several companies local and international only for them to pull out after the government insisted that it would stick with its then budgeted Ksh 12 billion. This saw the likes of Samsung, ZTE, Huawei, Shen Zhen Auto Digital and others withdraw earlier on after the government cancelled the earlier announced tender and re-announced it since the firms that had bid could not meet the government’s set procurement fees.
Olive Telecommunications’ Ksh 22 billion bid beat HP’s Ksh 23 billion and Chinese firm Haier Electricals Appliances Corporation’s Ksh 24 billion bid. HP, Haier and Olive were the three shortlisted firms. In the days leading up to the announcement, it had become apparent that Olive Telecommunications was a clear front runner and that it would likely win the tender. That had led to alot of infighting amongst key players in the industry with some accusing the Public Procurement Oversight Authority of favouring the Indian company. One of the government’s set conditions was that all companies bidding must be original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) so as to avoid the inclusion of middlemen who would otherwise inflate the cost of procuring the laptops. Based on this, it was argued that Olive Telecommunications did not merit to be awarded the tender as it was not an OEM. The Indian-based firm uses contractors in China to make its electronic equipment a fact that was alluded to by the Cabinet Secretary for Education when he said that a team had toured the company’s facility in China and was convinced that it had the capacity to deliver the laptops.
A quick check on Olive Telecommunications’ website reveals that the firm specializes in a lot of electronic devices ranging from smartphones to tablets to laptop computers to network equipment like routers at affordable prices and primarily targeted at the Indian market. It cites partnerships for research and development with the likes of Qualcomm (under the Qualcomm Reference Design program) and unammed carriers the world over. It also describes itself as the maker of India’s first tablet, first 3G tablet, first “3G embedded netbooks” and the first Android Gingerbread powered 3G+ smartphone.
The laptops for primary school kids is one of the promises made by the Jubilee government during the election campaigns last year and it is a key election pledge that the government will surely go all out to honour despite the hurdles that it faces. 1.3 million laptops and 20,367 projectors and printers (each) are expected to be bought under the program. The whole project is expected to cost Ksh 24.6 billion. The winning bidder is expected to provide the first batch of 400,000 laptops as soon as the coming month (March) to primary schools countrywide.
Other companies had hinted that they would establish factories locally so as to produce the laptops locally but little is known of Olive Telcommunication’s plans. Chances are that it will stick with its China-based contractors in order to meet the strict delivery timelines set by the Ministry of Education as the government rushes to roll-out the primary school laptop program.