In 2015, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology launched a laptop called the Taifa A3. The Taifa A3 was assembled in a partnership between the University and Chinese company Inspur with other organizations such as Chip maker Intel and Microsoft involved.
The University later added the purchase of the device among the requirements for prospective students to be admitted. In letters of admission sent out in August 2015, JKUAT said it planned to issue new students with the devices at a cost of Kshs. 41,000 payable in two installments. Students were expected to pay the first installment of Kshs. 22,000 at KCB Juja branch where they will be issued with the new devices upon finishing their registration.
The plan was however not enforced until now. Students who were to join the University today for their first year have taken to the internet to complain over this requirement for which they cannot opt out. A few students who already possess laptops were also required to buy the devices before being admitted.
— #AmKenyan (@WanjeriNderu) August 22, 2016
JKUAT forcing Freshers to buy crappy laptops for 41000, while you could get a laptop with better spes at 30000 #AuditPublicUniversities
— Sam Tums (@Yua_Boi_Sam) August 19, 2016
Jkuat now forcing all new students to buy their taifa laptops
— El Omuono (@ngafia_El) August 22, 2016
— M.M. SAMUEL (@sirmiemuigai) August 22, 2016
The Taifa A3 laptop sports a 2.4Ghz, 4th generation core i3 processor, comes with 4 GB RAM and a 500 GB hard disk. In addition to 3 USB ports and a HDMI port and retails for Kshs. 49,000. This makes it a tough sell owing to the not-so superior specs at that high price point.
Upon launch, the devices were hailed as a noble idea likely to propel Kenya’s capacity in hardware manufacturing which has struggled to keep up with our software output. Noting that companies like Lenovo originated from research facilities of institutions of higher learning, the Taifa range of laptops were seen as a catalyst of innovation. It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out.