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Daily Nation : February 9th 2014
6 | National News PROMISE | Standard One pupils said to finally get computers as of next month Intrigues behind Sh24bn laptop deal as Indian firm promises to deliver After intense lobbying and debates, Jubilee pledge now close to being fulfilled BY ISAAC ONGIRI @ongiri2 email@example.com marred the laptops-for-schools project, a major campaign promise of the Jubilee Alliance. But the Sh25 billion project B that attracted 17 local and international companies could still face challenges after some vendors raised legal issues in the procurement process, following the government’s decision to award the tender to India’s Olive Telecoms Pvt. And to ensure security guarantees for the project, the government has asked the Indian firm to deposit Sh2.3 billion as specified in the tender document before the contract is signed within the next seven days. The company is also expected to stick to the delivery timelines and specifications before it receives payment for the laptops. So intense was the lobbying that some top managers of global IT firms went out of their way to hunt for influential individuals in Kenya to push their case before the tender was advertised. Late last year during a presidential trip to China, a top manager of one of the interested firms tried in vain to hand over a laptop to government officials, believed to have been designed to fit the projected specifications of those intended for Kenyan primary pupils. “When we were in China, one businessman from one of the companies that later participated in the tender made his way through to the Presidential pavilion. He gave a laptop sample which he wanted the President to see. Unfortunately the President did not show interest in the gadget, but a governor in the delegation took it,” said an MP who witnessed the incident. Later in Rwanda, top officials of another business organisation tried to use Rwandan authorities to gain access to the Kenyan presidential delegation to market their laptops. Unlike other tenders, the min- istry introduced a new level of price evaluation known as Best and Final Offer, which gave the government the opportunity to TENDER How Indian firm landed the deal Of the 17 firms that took part in the second tendering process, only three were shortlisted. Olive’s final offer was Sh24.6 billion, beating opponents Hewlett Packard (HP) at Sh25 billion and Chinese giant refrigerator manufacturers Haier who quoted Sh26 billion. 17 Firms, both international and local, that vied for the multi-billion-shilling laptop supply tender further bargain with the vendors after the first tender announced in August last year collapsed, after all companies quoted billions more than the ministry’s budget. Some of the losing vendors are now questioning the introduction of open price negotiations claiming it may have given undue advantage to their competitors. But Education secretary Belio Kipsang has defended the process, saying the ministry did everything to ensure a fair process for all the participants and set safeguards to ensure value for money. Technocrats from the ICT FILE | NATION Diana Wanjiku of Thunguma Primary School in Nyeri practises typing. Class One pupils will start getting laptops from next month. board were also involved in the process, including in the eight-member team that visited Olive Telecom and New Century Optronics in India and China respectively. Olive Telecom and New Cen- tury Optronics had combined forces to put a successful bid for the Kenyan project. “This was a big process. We told our people that this is the President’s project and therefore it should be thorough and well done,” Dr Kipsang said. He said his team had dug deep into every complaint and claim raised to ensure nothing hindered the delivery of the 1.2 million laptops expected in schools from next month for Standard One pupils. Olive’s final offer was Sh24.6 billion, beating opponents Hewlett Packard (HP) at Sh25 billion and Chinese giant refrigerator manufacturers Haier which quoted Sh26 billion. Previously Haier had written to the ministry raising queries about the pricing. Early last month, HP also wrote to government demanding to be supplied with minutes of the earlier processes. Agents of the US firm applying for the tender through its European base have enlisted lawyers in what appears to be ground preparation for an appeal, after losing the tender that could have raised their profile and opened up the eastern Africa market. “Kindly supply us with cop- ies of the specially permitted procurement prices referred to in Article 29 of the tender data sheet and minutes of the proceedings that took place on December 20,” read a letter written by HP seen by the Sunday Nation. But in a response, the Edu- cation Ministry through Mr Kenneth Mwangi, wrote: “Since we have not completed the evaluation of the above tender we are not in a position to respond to the issues you have raised. This is in accordance with Section 44 of the Public Procurement and Oversight Authority Act.” Earlier Haier wrote: “During the negotiation held on December 10 it was made clear to all bidders that all free or value additions were to be compiled in an annex and given values. These values were then to be considered in the total cost of ownership,” read part of letter. “But yesterday Olive expressed confidence that they are capable of delivering to the standards specified by the government. The company’s chairman, Mr Arun Khanna, said both Olive Telecom and New Century Optronics are internationally recognised manufacturers. “The devices we provide to the students and teachers in emerging markets are not only plain hardware but have our integrated technology platform for education,” Mr Khanna said. Uhuru warns school heads against increasing school fees BY BENSON AMADALA AND DERICK LUVEGA firstname.lastname@example.org President Uhuru Kenyatta has warned public schools against increasing school fees arbitrarily. The President said all the increased charges were illegal and should stop with immediate effect until the government had exhaustively addressed the matter. He warned head teachers and school boards not to overcharge parents and deny poor children access to better education. Speaking during the memorial service of former cabinet minister Moses Mudavadi in Vihiga County, Mr Kenyatta also vowed to work with leaders from western Kenya to deliver on the pledges he made during the campaigns. The President said he was ready to accommodate leaders from regions that did not vote for him to serve in the Jubilee administration and unite Kenyans. He criticised those prophesying doom about his government, saying it was time Kenyans ignored them and focused on development. “Those leaders who spend their time engaging in political bickering should be ignored since their agenda is to create animosity among Kenyans and to divide the country,” said Mr Kenyatta. Leaders who spoke during the service asked the President to appoint Mr Musalia Mudavadi to the cabinet. Vihiga governor Moses Akaranga said that past regimes had worked closely with the Luyha community. oardroom intrigues, suspicions and multiple business interests nearly SUNDAY NATION February 9, 2014 BRIEFLY NAIROBI Legal agency faces sharp budget cuts National Council for the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) which is chaired by Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga is facing a shortfall of Sh680million in its budget. Dr Mutunga said the budget requirement for the implementation of the NCAJ Strategic Plan (2012-2016) was Sh1.49 billion. He was speaking in Nairobi when he released the Second Annual State of the Judiciary and Administration of Justice Report (SoJAR), covering July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013. “Many of the NCAJ agencies have witnessed rather sharp budget cuts which is worrying,” he said. NAIROBI Teach children mother tongue, says Mugenda Kenyatta University Vice- Chancellor Prof Olive Mugenda has emphasised the need for children to learn their vernacular languages. The VC said mother tongue plays a vital role in a child’s learning processes and should be encouraged. She said parents had a cardinal duty of teaching children their own languages. “Vernacular languages are an integral part of our culture,” the VC said while officially launching Kenya Is 50, a book written by Prof J.O. Olembo. The book, sub-titled Grandpa Prof ’s Story. chronicles events since the country’s independence, including the achievements and challenges. Prof Mugenda challenged other scholars to emulate Prof Olembo. NYERI Othaya MP to pay off farmers’ sacco debt Othaya MP Mary Wambui has come to the rescue of a dairy farmers’ co-operative society that risked closure due to a Sh10.7 million debt. The MP promised to pay Sh3 million to the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) to prevent the auctioning of the society building that was used to secure the loan from the bank. The bank had given an ultimatum to sell the building on February 21 if the debt will not have been settled. “KCB has agreed to waive the Sh900,000 interest if I pay them the Sh3 million loan in cash. I will pay them to prevent the auctioning of the building,” she told the farmers yesterday. KIENI Thousands in need of relief food, official says Over 30,000 people in Kieni constituency in Nyeri County are facing acute food shortage and are in need of relief food. The Nyeri County Drought Management coordinator Mr John Mwangi said inadequate rains led to 70 per cent of crop failure in the region. “We’ve made recommendations that the affected be given relief food from the government,” he said.
February 8th 2014
February 10th 2014