Kenyan Products: Have You Done Your Part?

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June 15, 2015

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Photo credit: Taifa Laptop on Weebly

Photo credit: Taifa Laptop on Weebly

If you’re a firm believer in supporting your country by buying locally-made products (and if you’re not, you should be), we have excellent news for you. Some of Kenya’s top minds, centered at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) will now be able to provide you with a reasonably priced, high quality laptop, assembled right here within the borders of our beautiful Kenya. Patriotically named “Taifa”, the laptops will set you back around KES.46,800, running on an Intel microchip and Windows as their operating system.

For the two Linux fans reading this, you’ll have to let us know if your favourite Ubuntu version is compatible. This frankly inspiring revelation comes a mere two years after the announcement of a similar laptop-related story involving Samsung. Back in 2013, the electronics giant was said to have partnered with the academic powerhouse to provide laptops for students upon admission to JKUAT, at a much lowered rate (about KES.39,000, from a retail price of KES.54,000).

Payments for eligible students were to thereafter be made from their school fees, giving much needed resources useful to their studies as far as research, completing assignments and gaining ICT skills for today’s digital world is concerned. The Taifa laptop is the brainchild of the Nairobi Industrial and Technology Park, which is a subsidiary of JKUAT.

Also lending a much appreciated helping hand to this project is our very own government. The cabinet secretary for the ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, Dr. Fred Matiang’i lauded the effort, which is meant to produce machines capable of competing with international brands such as Toshiba, Dell or Sony’s VAIO devices. Dr. Matiangi announced that the ministry of Industry would work directly with the JKUAT subsidiary to increase their capacity and ensure the production of even more Taifa laptops.

Photo credit: Wardtog

Photo credit: Wardtog

This promise to support local entrepreneurs and industries comes at around the same time as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s own show of solidarity with Kenya’s own by attending the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit at the Strathmore Business school.

While the very leader of our free nation was present, the Cabinet secretaries for for Industrialization and Enterprise Development, Education and Treasury opted not to show up in a shameful representation of our leader’s attitude towards local ingenuity.

The President made sure to express his anger at the absence of these key persons, whose support of our homegrown talent would likely go a long way towards nurturing it’s development. While it may be easy to jump on the bandwagon and (rightfully) judge these leaders harshly, Kenyans in glass houses need not throw stones.

The sentiment that goods from abroad are superior in quality is very common among Kenyan consumers. Given that this attitude is applied to the most basic goods, such as textiles, coffee brands, or even paper products, what chance does a Kenyan-assembled laptop really stand? We in the logistics industry feel the pinch as well when local businesses opt to use the services of international or foreign-owned logistics companies for their cargo, arguing that these more established companies are easier to trust or more efficient than those run by their countrymen.Does that sound familiar? Are those statements you yourself have made? Chances are, your answer was “yes”. Perhaps then, before rushing to state that local entrepreneurs do not do enough, or the government does not offer the needed support, we should reflect on where our own shillings are spent? Do have a contemplative week.


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