Blade-Nzimande
Blade-Nzimande. Image source SABC News

Five winning bidders have been announced for the controversial National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) tender to supply laptops to students.

The five shortlisted bidders are Pinnacle, CEOS Technologies, MLO Distinctive Solutions, ANG Group and East Side Group.

The winning bidder will be responsible for procuring 730 000 laptops to benefit 430 000 students in 26 universities and 300 000 students in 50 TVET colleges across the country.

The tender has been cancelled twice due to corruption allegations.

“The review of the end to end procurement process was performed by NSFAS external legal attorneys,” NSFAS said in a statement. “The outcome of the review indicated that the procurement process followed was in line with the NSFAS SCM policy.

“NSFAS has communicated the award to the successful service providers on 02 November 2020, and it was accepted by all 5 service providers by November 05, 2020. NSFAS is in the process of completing the contractual arrangements with all 5 service providers, following which the details thereon, together with the final mutually agreed guidelines will be communicated with all institutions, whereby institutions can commence the procurement process for the laptops required by the NSFAS funded students.”

By the closing date of September 21, 2020, NSFAS had received a total of 140 bids in response to the tender requirements. The 140 bids were evaluated between September 22, 2020 and October 13, 2020 by the NSFAS Bid Evaluation Committee (BEC).

A total of 11 bid proposals were disqualified for not achieving the pre-qualification criteria which required the bidders to be either a level one (1) or two (2) BBB-EE contributor, said NSFAS.

Furthermore, a total of 27 bid proposals were disqualified for not achieving mandatory requirement 4.2.2 which required the bidders to be a certified partner with the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).

The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for the higher education sector in relation to the mode of learning and teaching.

“The sole purpose of this project was to provide access to digital remote learning for NSFAS funded students, to ensure that no student is left behind, however, providing NSFAS funded students with laptops will not only benefit students during the pandemic, but will usher a new dawn in advancement of technology and embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR),” said in a statement.

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