The fact that Kenyan assembled computers are rarely advertised in the mainstream media doesn't negate their existence. Nor too, does it proclaim their inferiority to their imported branded counterparts. Mecer, a local EPZ assembler that folded up a few years ago, attributed its woes to heavy government taxation. But what has perhaps never been disclosed is that local small scale computer assemblers have all along been a thorn in the flesh of some of the world's leading brands represented in the country.
For an economy like ours that grew by six percent last year, IT is a must have for business success. Proof is that more than any other time before, most of the business people who understand what they want in a computer are streaming to local assembly shops where the machines are assembled to their specifications, and at a fraction of what they would have paid for a branded machine.
Some of the most common uses of custom made machines include home offices - for the growing number of professionals wishing to do their private jobs at home, or for entertainment purposes; computers for schools; as well as multimedia monsters for the fast expanding music and video editing businesses.
A typical state of the art, fully multi-media computer has the following specifications: a powerful and genuine Intel Pentium IV 3.0 Ghz processor; 256 Mb memory; a massive 80GB hard disk; and a brand new 15" monitor. This retails in the range of Ksh. 20,000 to 25,000. This is a machine strong enough to handle almost any requirements for data storage, retrieval and analysis for most SMEs. Multi-media use would require some slight modifications, which could push the price up a bit, depending on the specifications. A similar branded machine goes for Ksh. 50,000 and above depending on the brand.
What's more, the parts used in assembling the machines locally are sourced from the same internationally recognized manufacturers such as Sony, Samsung, Asus, Intel, AMD, Sea Gate and Western Digital, to mention but a few. These are the same names and specifications you will find on the motherboards, hard disks, monitors, processors, memory chips and other parts of branded imported systems. And just like their branded counterparts, most locally assembled units come with at least six months warranty on parts and labour.
Recently, the government zero rated tax on computer parts, and this has greatly helped in suppressing the prices to the levels we see on window shops today. The recent Government-initiated Madaraka computer assembly project is a welcome move in improving local access to IT. However, the Government has a responsibility too, of ensuring that only the best quality of computer parts enter the Kenyan market. In return, this will create more confidence in locally assembled units. Otherwise, it is an open secret today that anyone can assemble his or her own computer according to his budget and task requirements. For those wishing to learn how to do this, there is a wonderful tutorial at www.kenyada.com/build_computer.htm (The site has nothing to do with Kenya - the nice guy who runs it goes by that name).
2007 John Wanjora
First Published in Small Medium Enterprises Today Magazine, Nairobi, under pen name Arthur Makori
© Copyright 2016 John Wanjora. All rights reserved.