Chinese company to be supplier for initial ‘One Laptop’ roll-out

Chinese company Haier Electrical Appliances Limited has won the bid to supply 27,000 netbooks for the government’s One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) project, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh announced yesterday.

Singh made the disclosure at a post-Cabinet press briefing at the Office of the President, where Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon said cabinet granted its “no-objection” to the award of the US$7.5 million contract.

Haier was among 11 potential suppliers that vied for the contract after the original tender for the supply of instruments was quashed and a new tender announced with revised specifications in July.

After the bids were narrowed to three, Haier was ranked highest, based on evaluations of the bid and assessments of the machines, and it was recommended by the Evaluation Unit to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board. The bids, Singh explained, were subjected to detailed evaluation against a comprehensive set of technical and financial criteria. These include specifications, such as memory, processing speed and power requirements as well as related aspects such as the warranty and the price.

Singh said the Evaluation Unit’s recommendation was endorsed by the Tender Board and referred to Cabinet for its no-objection.

The recommendation was considered by Cabinet last Friday and it granted its no-objection to the award of the contract to the highest ranked bidder. The other two high ranking bidders were Josh Ram Gramhanssen (Denmark) and Abboud Trade Incorporated (Florida).

Sesh Sukhdeo, OLPF Project Manager, said the evaluation approach was based on a very structured approached. He said that the additional information presented by Haier Electrical Appliances Limited is that the bid will also provide a two percent buffer of laptops. He noted that the tender process sought to ensure that there was a seven-day turn around for laptops/netbooks on the warranty, two percent additional stock, an 18-month warranty period and the cost of a logo being printed on the machine.

According to Sukhdeo, the tender was for the supply of 27, 000 laptops and he pointed out that the remainder of the 90, 000 to be distributed over the project’s two-year period would follow the same tendering process.

The media was shown a sample of the laptop presented by Haier Electrical Appliances Limited at the opening of the bidding.

Singh yesterday emphasised that the government had reopened the bidding process to encourage wider participation after only three bids were received during the initial tender, leading to the conclusion that there was not enough competition.

According to Singh, the new tenders were re-advertised in the first week of July and a tender period of just over one month was allowed. On the basis of the response, which included bids from international companies, he said the retender was justified, while noting that there “was considerably wider participation.”

The project was initially launched in January, when 142 computers were ceremonially handed over to students from four entities. It was later disclosed that the computers were bought with a controversial US$50,000 gift from Chinese company Huawei, after it had won a US$14M contract to lay fibre optic cables here.

According to the OLPF Project Unit, once families receive their laptops, they will benefit from continuous technical support and learning guidance and they will have the opportunity to enhance their learning by progressing from basic to intermediary and advanced levels, through their ICT Hubs.

The laptops will be equipped with a range of learning tools, anti-theft security features and internet ready portals. The care and safe keeping of the laptops will be the responsibility of the recipients.

The hubs “will be required to provide a conducive learning environment and their own facilitators who will be accredited by the OLPF Project Unit; or accommodate OLPF accredited training volunteers, for the provision of technical support to the process, while facilitating and monitoring the technical and social learning progress of participating families”.

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