…may set up manufacturing plant here
Chinese appliances manufacturer, Haier, announced yesterday that it intends to set up a manufacturing plant here in Guyana, probably as early as next year.
The announcement came from Sun Yongle, the General Manager of Haier’s Overseas Project Division, who signed off on the company’s US$7.6 million contract to supply netbooks for the One Laptop Per Family Project.
The company won the bid to supply 27,000 laptops under the first phase of the project. President Bharrat Jagdeo, who witnessed the signing, restated the government’s intention to distribute a total of 90, 000 laptops within two to three years, and enable every home to have access to the internet.
He said that the goal is to ensure that everyone – from grandparents to kids – is computer literate.
Jagdeo said that internet access allows for “a whole range of services to be delivered to those homes” that will benefit from the project, but he did not get into details.
“This is very important for the future that we’re all working to build in Guyana – a future that gives citizens a greater say, more empowerment, not only in the affairs of their country but their own lives,” President Jagdeo said.
The government has set aside $1.8 billion in this year’s budget for the project.
Jagdeo said that with greater access to information, people “are going to demand more of their governments, if they are aware of what is going on around the world.”
The President said that Chinese grant funding, pegged at US$8 million, would supply more computers and help the project to be rolled out faster. The Chinese Ambassador Yu Wenzhe witnessed the signing of the agreement.
Haier was one of two companies that President Jagdeo, six months ago, said could be favoured to supply laptops, utilizing the Chinese grant funding for the project.
Yesterday, he said that the Chinese Government has sought bids for the supply of computers.
Haier announced that Brian James, the owner of Auto Supplies, was the company’s local partner. James had before refused to acknowledge that he was the local representative of Haier, saying he would wait on the company to make that announcement.
Three weeks ago, James, no stranger to controversy, cancelled his invitations to a ceremony to mark the start of construction of a cinema complex on land which is the centre of a bitter legal dispute between the government and hardware giant Toolsie Persaud Limited.
Toolsie Persaud claims that it is the rightful owner of the land which was sold off by the government.
Haier bid for the contract when the government put out a re-tender after rejecting all of the bids that were put in when the first advertisement for bids went out.
The company was one of the eight foreign companies that put in bids for the contract.
Jagdeo said that he was pleased that the second bidding process attracted direct bids from companies like Haier, “a major global company.”
He said that Haier has been around, has huge market capitalisation, and is a company that the government wants to do business with.
“We know the instruments that we are going to be provided with would be good, quality instruments; functional instruments.”
Mr Sun said that Haier would set up a local office and a local call centre to which persons can call and get on to a Guyana service engineer.
Haier is providing an 18-month warranty on the instruments it will provide – six months more than what the government was asking for.
Among the netbook specifications are: 2.0GB memory; a display screen of 10.1 inches; camera of 0.3 megapixels; two USB 2.0 ports; 1 RJ-45; headphones; microphones, card reader: MMC/SD Video Adaptor; Integrated Video with an operating system of a minimum Genuine Windows 7 Starter English (OEM).
It will also include a minimum two hours of battery operational life and has the capacity to handle wireless data.
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