The government on Friday invited bids for the supply of laptops to pupils after the first attempt was rocked by procurement scandals.
ICT Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said firms found to be engaging in procurement fraud in the tenders will be stopped from doing business in the country.
“We have considered very harsh penalties with the help of the Attorney-General, (and) we will take a tough stance on applicants making the process scandalous,” said Dr Matiang’i at a press briefing Friday to unveil the logo of the new "Digital Learning Programme".
To avoid procurement woes, the government wants only public institutions with the ability to create local assembly lines to participate in the Sh17 billion laptop project.
There are tax incentives for institutions that will set up local assemblies.
Nonetheless, the firms are expected to supply specific laptops for teachers, learners and special-needs leaners. They must also have the ability to supply servers, routers and projectors.
In a notice Friday, the ICT ministry said the laptops should be easily portable and be able to withstand rugged operating conditions.
The laptops must also have a long life battery with low power consumption.
The project is set for full launch in January, when Standard One and Standards Four to Eight laptops will be delivered.
It is designed to support learning by providing laptops to learners and also encourages content development by allowing its delivery on a universal platform to pupils.
The Government plans to partner with private sector for education content development. The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development must approve the content that goes on the site.
Kenyatta University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and Moi University have positioned themselves to tap into the school laptop project.
The three have set up local assembly plants and equipped their centres with technology to compete for the government project.
Deputy President William Ruto in July hinted that the tenders would be awarded to JKUAT and Moi University. KU whose plant was set up later will also have a role in the project.
The universities have till January next year to churn out 600,000 laptops for lower primary pupils.
Nairobi University, on the other hand, is positioned as a digital learning hub, with a digital research centre that incubates start-ups and great ideas. Strathmore, through the iLab Africa, has technical knowledge on cloud computing.