By David Himbara
President Paul Kagame had a nice dream in 2007— give every primary school pupil a laptop. This was part of his building a knowledge-based economy. In 2008, he decided to turn the dream into reality. As he put it, ”We are going to turn the dream of all our children owning computers into reality.”
Fast forward to 2017. The digital president should be ashamed of himself. Of the 2.5 million primary school pupils in Rwanda, only 274,127 have access to laptop computers.
And then Kagame and Akamanzi found a solution
Kagame and Akamanzi found a company to manufacture computers in Rwanda. This would enable Kagame to achieve his dreams. The company is a joint venture between two Latin American companies — Positivo Informática from Brazil and BGH from Argentina. In Rwanda, the company rebranded as PBG Rwanda Limited. As the company explains,
”Established in Kigali, Rwanda, and proudly African, PBG Rwanda Limited manufactures and distributes PCs and other electronics products both for education and comfort purposes.”
PBG Rwanda was the perfect solution. Firstly, PBG Rwanda would supply the laptops Kagame dreamed about. Secondly, Kagame would boast that Rwanda manufactures computers. This was a win-win situation for Kagame.
The plan and schedule of supplying the computers went like…
The Auditor General’s latest report gives us an insight into the Kagame and Akamanzi world. Here is how the plan and schedule of suppling the computers were envisaged in 2015:
- Government via the Akamanzi-led Rwanda Development Board (RDB) committed to purchasing 40,000 computers annually from PBG Rwanda for four years at $9.6 Million per year.
- Laptops worth $4.7 Million would be supplied under the one laptop per child program in the first half of 2016.
- A revised schedule was signed in October 2016 for the balance of $4.8 Million.
Things did not go according to plan and schedule
According to the Auditor General, Akamanzi and her RDB messed up. These are Auditor General’s words:
• By the time of the audit in February 2018…7,784 laptops were produced by PBG Rwanda Limited (PBG) and paid for by RDB.
• However, only 2,302 laptops representing 30% of the total laptops were distributed to different public entities leaving a balance of 5,482 laptops not distributed.
• In January 2018, RDB ordered additional 4,027 laptops to be distributed to Government entities.
• There was no documented plan for the distribution of 9,509 laptops with a purchase cost of USD5,763,139 that are kept in the stock of PBG Rwanda Limited (PBG).
Meanwhile, the laptop per child faces further nightmares at the ministry of education. As per Auditor General’s Report:
• In 2015, Government started purchase and distribution of other laptops (note books) to secondary schools, in addition to XO laptops being distributed to primary schools.
• Available records show that Government has distributed 274,127 XO laptops worth USD 55,373,654 to primary schools between 2008 and 30 June 2017…
• However, there is no proper documented and approved maintenance plan for existing laptops and replacement plan once the current laptops become old.
The situation in Kagame’s one laptop per child is sad. First, there was no money to buy the computers. Second, when money was found and the computers purchased, they were not distributed. Third, for those distributed, there were no maintenance plan to service the computers. The Kagame and Akamanzi horror show continues.