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JKUAT rolls out 2,000 locally assembled tablets at Juja plant

Taifa Assembly Line production manager Benson Mungai (right) demonstrates the operations of a school based laptop to Nigeria’s Communications minister, Adebayo Shittu (centre) and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) Vice Chancellor Mabel Imbuga on January 24, 2016. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU
Taifa Assembly Line production manager Benson Mungai (right) demonstrates the operations of a school based laptop to Nigeria’s Communications minister, Adebayo Shittu (centre) and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) Vice Chancellor Mabel Imbuga on January 24, 2016. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU 

An assembly plant located at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has rolled out the first batch of 2,000 tablets for school children.

The assembly plant, a joint venture between JKUAT and Latin American firm Positivo BGH, has a capacity to churn out 600 tablets per day.

ICT and Innovation principal secretary Victor Kyalo on Tuesday said the government plans to have about 100,000 homegrown mobile computers out of the total 1.2 million devices to be rolled out in the first phase of the project.

“Now that we have perfected the art, we can do bigger batches. You should produce 10,000 tablets in the next batch,” Mr Kyalo said while visiting the Juja-based university on Tuesday.

Mr Kyalo was speaking when he led Nigeria’s communications minister Adebayo Shittu to tour the facility, which employs about 20 techies.

Mr Shittu said he was impressed with the project and mulled purchasing units from the Kenyan facility to pilot a digital learning programme in Nigeria.

JKUAT made news in June 2015 made news when it unveiled locally assembled laptops trading under the brand name ‘Taifa’ and retailing at about Sh41,500.

Devices from the JKUAT- Positivo BGH project will be distributed to public schools in 21 counties, officials said.

Another consortium made up of Moi University and Portuguese tech firm JP SA Couto was the other winner to locally assemble tablets.

The Jubilee government announced plans to spend Sh17 billion to give mobile computers to each Standard One pupil in public schools, as part of fulfilling its election pledges.

“We will provide every child entering standard 1 in primary school with a solar-powered laptop. We shall sustain this programme for each succeeding year until the day when every child in the country will walk with a satchel and a laptop,” Uhuru Kenyatta said on February 03, 2013 when unveiling his manifesto.

President Kenyatta’s one-laptop-per-child project finally took off last year after multiple false starts attributed to tendering headwinds, and the devices were downgraded to tablets.

About 700,000 fully-made tablets have so far been bought from China and distributed to schools around Kenya, Mr Kyalo revealed on Tuesday.

A further 200,000 mobile computers are in transit and will be in Kenya ‘soon,’ he added.

The devices being locally assembled are shipped in as knocked-down kits containing all the parts needed to make a tablet.

The JKUAT assembly line comprises of 12 distinct steps that transforms different electronic parts into a fully made tablet, tested, and packaged ready for shipment to schools.

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