The Government of Guyana, through the Office of the President and Chinese electronics giant Haier, yesterday signed an agreement for the procurement of 27,000 laptops under the One Laptop Per Family Initiative.
President Bharrat Jagdeo and Chinese Ambassador to Guyana, Yu Wenzhe, were on hand at the Office of the President to witness the historic signing, which would see the procurement of the first batch of laptops in October for distribution to the first set of recipients before the end of that month.
Signing on behalf of the government was Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President, Dr. Nanda Kishore Gopaul, and on behalf of Haier, General Manager – Overseas Project Division Sun Yongle.
The total cost of the contract is US$7.56M. The cost per unit, inclusive of warrantee and after sales service, is about US$280.
Speaking at the signing, President Jagdeo said, “Every Guyanese child, every Guyanese person, from grandparent to kids, will be computer literate. This is very important to the future that we are working towards in Guyana. [It is] a future that gives citizens a greater say, more empowerment in the affairs, not only of the country, but for their own lives.”
He said that the OLPF, conceptualized a few years ago, has seen very hard work to get to this stage. “The ultimate goal is to ensure that in a few years, maximum three, every home in Guyana will have computers, and that most of those homes will be connected to the internet,” he said.
Calling the programme transformative, he said that access to information is supportive of enhancement of productivity through the internet. “A whole range of services could be delivered to those homes directly. We see this as the basis on which a quantum leap on the quality of delivery of services can be made,” the president stated, calling the initiative a lifelong investment in the people of Guyana.
He said that, in time, people will demand more of Government and of policy makers. “They will be aware of what is going on around the world, with access to the internet and the wealth of information that exists out there,” he said.
The president said he was pleased the second tender process attracted so many bidders, “and that we had a manufacturer, a company with Haier’s reputation, a major global company, bidding directly for these laptops. We hope to build on this partnership.”
He lauded the company for going beyond the requirement of the bid document and offering an extended warrantee of 18 months instead of one year.
He also expressed his appreciation to the Chinese Government. “China had given us a grant, and we had asked that this grant be used to purchase some additional computers. I gather the Chinese Government has gone out to tender and we hope that those computers will also be supplied so we could roll out the programme faster,” he said.
“China has been supportive of all of our efforts. We just came from an event in Trinidad and Tobago where we met with the Chinese Vice Premier, Wang Qishan, and apart from recognizing how important the relations are between China and Guyana, we got significant commitments from the Vice Premier to support our national development efforts.”
Speaking after the signing, Haier General Manager – Overseas Project Division Sun Yongle said the computer is the best product for a child’s education and also to improve education levels. “So I think this product will be very good for public education. We are very pleased. We will [be producing computers locally in Guyana in the future],” he said.
“We are going to have a local office in Guyana and also we are going to have a local call centre. You can call the Guyana number and there will be a Guyana service engineer to give you the service. I hope, within two years, we can have an assembly line in Guyana [and that Guyanese will use the products made here],” Sun said.