'One Laptop' contract signed, China to provide another 21,000 units
Written by Kwesi Isles
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 16:39
Haier's Sun Yongle with one of the netbooks
The Guyana government and Chinese firm Haier Electrical Appliances Ltd. Have signed a US$7.5M contract for the supply of 27,000 netbooks for the government’s One Laptop per Family (OLPF) while the Chinese government is looking to provide another 21,000 by year end.
Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President Dr. Nanda Gopaul and Haier’s General Manager of the Overseas Project Division Sun Yongle signed the agreement at the Office of the President on Wednesday.
Labour Minister Manzoor Nadir, who has Cabinet responsibility for the project, said the netbooks will be in Guyana in October with distribution to start before the last week of the month.
Sun told reporters that Haier will be setting up support services in Guyana for the project and possibly an assembly plant.
“We are going to have a local office in Guyana and also a local call centre and you can call the Guyana and there will be a Guyana service engineer to give you the service. I think maybe next year we can have an assembly line in Guyana and people can use the products made in Guyana,” he said.
Guyana Auto Supplies Company head Brian James told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) that they will be the local agents handling the set up of the service and call centre and warranty depots.
President Bharrat Jagdeo in brief remarks said that the event bore more significance than some other government works.
“This signing is not just about a road that we all share sometime or some school building or a hospital building, this is the signing of a contract that will see government transferring directly to individual families some of its resources to improve their lives,” Jagdeo said.
He noted that the government has also asked its Chinese counterpart to secure more computers with part of the GUY$920M grant it recently made to Guyana and that they have already gone out to tender.
Chinese Ambassador in Georgetown Yu Wenzhe said they are looking to get some 21,000 netbooks and have them presented before year end.
The government is looking to provide some 90,000 netbooks to poor families over a two-year period with GUY$1.8B budgeted for the OLPF this year.olpfnetbook
The verification of applications for the netbooks and training exercises are currently underway.
Nadir has said that of the 45,000 applicants, 27,000 will be receiving laptops in the first phase after verification and training are completed.
He explained that the verification process includes the cross-referencing of applicants with existing databases on single-parents, disabled, low-income households and students who received government subsidies to sit CXC exams.
The Labour Minister rejected suggestions in certain quarters that the OLPF is a campaign tool for general and regional elections constitutionally due by December 28.
“This is not an election gimmick. This is about making a knowledge society. This is not about election because we would have given all 90,000 laptops and we would have just handed them out like if it is Christmas in October,” he said.
Nadir said the idea of creating a knowledge-based society is several years old, dating back to when Guyana had applied for a US$18 million loan from the Inter American Development Bank (IDB). At the time, the majority American-owned Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) had taken steps to successfully block the financing on the grounds that the Information Communications Technology (ICT) project would have infringed upon its monopoly rights on national and international data transmission.