For context, please see below:
This means that 25 computers cost 270,580,000.00UGX (In words, two hundred seventy million, five hundred and eighty thousand shillings only). The unit cost of each is: 10,823,200UGX (In words: Ten million, eight hundred and twenty three thousand two hundred shillings only.)
Now before you raise your eye brows, there are actual computers that cost this much.
Apple’s 15 inch MacBook Pro (bells and whistles + ethernet and display adapters) will set you back – minus shipping and taxes – $3257 /10.8M UGX. Build it Here. HP also has an Elite Book 1040 which is, pre tax, $3242/10.76M UGX.
Now to fact check the story, Sarah Mukasa is indeed the Vice Chairperson of the LGFC, and Dunstan Balaba is the Adjumani District CAO. This Facebook post places the news report on the morning of 10th May 2016.
Now that the elephants are out of the way – lets understand why and how the work of a District Chief Administrative Officer involves the revenue collections and why super expensive laptops particularly assist in this work. I should like to add that Uganda has 134 districts, and if we supplied 1 for each CAO, we still have a deficit of – 1,179,728,800UGX (or at the rate above, $355,340).
There are reasons why you need a super expensive laptop when you are in Adjumani or Kaberamaido – Retina Display may still be able to give you capabilities against the super bright tropical sunshine. A CAO needs to see his numbers clearly, all the time.
Also, a CAOs laptop needs to be able to process graphics akin to a graphics designer’s laptop. There would be no mistake on the actual shade of red on those state functions and we all know how the color yellow needs to remain with a banana republic integrity.
These laptops are capable of Skype (full HD, wide screen mode) and other video conferencing tools which would make it possible for His Excellence to contact all the CAOs without shipping them to Entebbe.
You know how internet connectivity can be tricky upcountry? Why should a CAO not get a device that connects to any kind of internet connection – 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G and any other G you can think of. This is strategic.
Lets also consider that with the census numbers out, every CAO needs atleast 1terabyte (1 terabyte is 1000 gigabytes) of space to keep profiles of every tax payer in their district. This is a revenue collection exercise, remember? The combined computer storage space distributed at this level of public administration alone, for the whole of Uganda would be a cool 134 terabytes.
Now, onto the small matter of a CAO doing Revenue Collection.
Why do you think this is strange? Have you not heard of collaborative synergy? URA can be in Kampala (incidentally, Kampala is not a district!) and the CAOs can be in the districts – viola – revenue collection at 100% country wide coverage! What is so difficult about this for you to understand?
Now, for the Procurement side of things – how is it that PPDA did not find more expensive laptops? I am sure that our CAOs can do so much more, with computers, than revenue collection – like managing these district portals – a Uganda Communications Commission project.
It is possible to get a super expensive laptop because it is unlikely that Uganda PPDA rules for software would have favoured Free and Open Source Software over proprietary alternatives – a CAOs computer would have a paid Operating System (Windows), that needs a paid Anti-Virus, a paid Office Suite (Microsoft Office) – at the very minimum. Add a couple of other tools in this lock-in environment and you will see that the actual computer might cost less.
There is indeed a way to acquire 25 laptops for $81500. Only in Uganda.