Where Did Our Tablets Go? Tablets from Kenya’s Failed Digital Literacy Regime Sold in Uganda

July 18, 2022

By Raisa Okwaras

Angry Kenyans took to social media to express their disappointments and hurt after reports came in that the Kenyan government tablets initially meant for Grade One pupils were now sold on Uganda’s black market for peanuts.

This came in after a sharp-sighted Kenyan spotted this on a Facebook page named ‘Uganda 2’ which allows Ugandans to buy and sell automotive and electronics. In the post, the Kampala-based Uganda 2 Facebook Page user who identified himself as Emmanuel Watile was selling these government tablets at $79 each, about Ksh.9,338.

64GB storage running on Windows 10’’ and compatible with all laptop plugins. Quick cash needed,” read the listing.

After going viral, the alleged salesperson at Radissons Beauty Products as well as BF Suma Africa took down the post. However, this did not stop irate Kenyans from seeking answers on the source of these government supplies. According to Kenyans, they were heavily taxed on these supplies only for them not to benefit their children as promised.

Later on, Nairobi News revealed that another vendor was selling the same tablets for ksh.3,700. According to them, this client was the main supplier of the same.

In 2014, the Government of Kenya through the Jubilee Party leadership launched the digital literacy program. It then promised 23,991 public primary schools and a total of 1.2 million learners’ digital devices.

In 2015, the government of Kenya stated that ksh.17 billion would be used to purchase the laptops for Standard One pupils. Four years later, the government suspended the issuance of the tablets to Standard One pupils and opted to construct computer laboratories for twenty-five thousand public primary schools instead. Yet, at the time of this change, some public primary schools were yet to receive the tablets.

According to the set delivery timelines, six hundred thousand tablets were to be issued by end of June 2016 with the remaining equal amount to be issued in 2017.

Reports also hold that in 2016, thieves attacked four schools in Bungoma county and stole hundreds of these branded government tablets. Five years later in 2021, seventy-one were recovered in Uganda. The Uganda Police revealed that these were recovered after a motorcycle rider was arrested ferrying them via an unofficial border crossing. They then contacted the Kenyan Police Force who visited Uganda’s Lwakhakha police post and ascertained them to be the ones for Standard One pupils in Kenya.

In the Facebook post, Netizens stated that they have seen these tablets everywhere, with one saying that they saw a driver using them.

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