News / South Africa / Education

Gopolang Moloko
3 minute read
21 Jul 2020
2:40 pm

Why pay ‘R404m’ to lease tablets when you can buy for R264m, EC dept asked

Gopolang Moloko

Calls made to several outlets proved it would be cheaper to buy the tablets.

A pupil uses the new Siyavula app to study maths and science. Picture: Alex News. Image only used for illustrative purpose.

Chief among these is why the department doesn’t simply purchase the tablets outright, saving millions of Rand, and cutting out the middleman.
Another aspect of the deal, which was revealed in the Eastern Cape legislature is that the tablets are expected to be returned after a three-year term, while purchasing the items would obviously mean they remain the property of the department.
According to the Daily Dispatch, the deal with a Pretoria-based IT group is said to be worth hundreds of millions.
Although exact details around the contract remain sparse after numerous calls to the department went unanswered on Tuesday, a rough calculation on the price of each tablet amounts to appproximately R7,200 each.
While the Eastern Cape education department will spend the figure in an attempt to ensure a rescued academic year for matrics, an online search of tablets highlights prices of tablets to range from R899 for a Neon IQ 7-inch WiFi Tablet NQT7W at HiFi corporation.
A Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-inch with WiFi capabilities in black is valued at R1,999 while a Samsung Galaxy Tab A 2019 10.1″ LTE 32GB in black is valued at R6,299.  Further research using Price Check results in several other options which could equate to a better deal for the Eastern Cape department.
The Citizen made several calls to various outlets including Incredible Connection asking for quotes on a bulk deal for tablets. At an average of R4 800 a tablet, the amount for 55 000 tablets came to R264 million, with an option for a discount. If the department really wanted to splurge, they could even afford to buy the luxurious iPad 10.2″ model with Wifi, for R6999 each, which is R201 cheaper than the current deal.
These prices also do not include the potential bulk buying discounts which would apply if the department were make such a purchase, but are rather retail prices.
Questions have surfaced on social media around the leased price of the sim cards, maintenance of the tablets as well as the prices of the protective cases.
The price of who will be responsible for the apps as well as the security of the tablets also remain in question, as it is alleged that even the delivery fee seemed questionable.
Terms to the lease agreement may provide some light, as the outlay of the capital spread over the period plays a major factor on lease agreements.
The onus may be to have learners use the assets until such a time that the department will return the tablets to the owner, once headway on the Covid-19 pandemic has been made.
Numerous attempts to contact the department were still unsuccessful at the time of publishing and an update will be made once more clarity on the agreement is reached.

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