Huawei responds to reports that Gauteng school tablet tender is being investigated

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Local internet services provider CloudSeed and telecoms giant Huawei may soon find themselves in trouble after the auditor-general flagged the tendering process for the “one tablet per child” project. The story was first broken over the weekend by Times Live.

The auditor-general has instructed the Gauteng Department of Finance to probe irregularities in the R518 million tender awarded to the two tech companies to provide tablets and WiFi connectivity as part of the Gauteng Department of Education’s elearning plans for the next two to five years.

“Contracts relating to the e-learning devices and the e-learning connectivity were awarded to bidders based on points given for criteria that differed from those stipulated in the original invitation for bidding, in contravention of Treasury Regulation 16A6.3 (a) and Preferential Procurement Regulations,” the auditor-general said, indicating that specifications had been changed to increase the chances of CloudSeed and Huawei winning the tender.

It was also reportedly found that the companies’ services were not acquired through the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), which handles the procurement, costs and delivery services of the government’s IT resources to citizens in the most cost-effective way.

According to Huawei South African representative’s office “Huawei Technologies is committed to the highest level of corporate governance, transparency and the implementation of effective structures, policies and practices while working towards bridging the digital divide and making broadband access universally available.

“We are of the opinion that the company currently complies with all significant governance principles and that the company complies with all procurement processes internally and externally. Our corporate governance practices are continually being reviewed and improved by benchmarking against internationally accepted best practices,” the office added.

CloudSeed could not be reached for comment.