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Underserved areas to benefit from Kenya school laptop programme’

According to an article published on IT WEB AFRICA, Kenya’s planned school laptop programme could help spur on development in underserved areas of the East African country, says an expert. Kenya’s government last week announced that it has extended submissions for a primary schools laptop tender project to Thursday this week.

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As part of the project, Kenya plans to buy 1.3 million laptops for class one pupils in public primary schools. Kenya’s government is pinning its hopes on starting the project’s roll-out in the first quarter of 2014. Bidding was opened for the tender earlier this year, but government complained that companies quoted prices that were too high. Subsequently, the tender was cancelled. But government has since reopened the bidding and over 50 companies have submitted tender documents, according to the cabinet secretary for education Jacob Kaimenyi.

East Africa analyst for Informa Telecoms & Media, Danson Njue, has told ITWeb Africa he is optimistic the roll-out of the project is set to be completed as planned. Njue, though, said that the timing of the project’s completion is difficult to predict. Nevertheless, Njue added that the project could help spur on development especially in more far-flung areas, as the likes of Kenya’s largest mobile operator Safaricom has said it plans to provide free internet to schools if government allocates more spectrum. “There is commitment: not (just) from the government, but also other companies,” Njue told ITWeb Africa. “I think we are looking at a whole new thing whereby areas which were previously unserved or underserved will now have a chance to have some form of development. “We are looking at a whole bucket of opportunities for many players, not just the government or even the telecoms providers,” Njue added. Njue further said that Kenya has done a good job of building terrestrial fibre networks in its counties: a key requirement for maximising benefits of the ‘one laptop per child’ project.

This year, the likes of pan-African wholesale carrier Liquid Telecom announced it is taking over Altech’s East Africa assets in a bid to further expand its fibre network in countries such as Kenya. Liquid Telecom says it has a terrestrial network that spans over 13,000km in Africa. Moreover, plans by Kenya’s government to implement the laptop programme come as internet usage is soaring in the country.

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