The first two weeks of this month the two installations teams from the contractor given the tender by MCA, two technicians from the head office in Windhoek and I had been moving between the 13 school sites to do the installation and to start with the training. Weather God had been gracious: except for one site we were able to reach all locations within the planned schedule. However reaching some of the bush schools had been quite adventurous – once the water came up to the side window. Of course not everything during the deployment, let alone the situation now, is rosy in the garden. If this will be the case one day it is definitely time to go home for all foreign development/aid organizations.
Our 22 HP computer school labs. I had them mentioned in ‘Nicht für diese Welt’ in Outapi Times issue #2. Maintenance is done by Netts in Windhoek – in theory. Last month Victor finished to put our own Win2K3 image on all of the servers in the Omusati Region. The Labs are equipped with a powerful high volume network laser printers from Lexmark (T640). The whole equipment had just been dropped like a bomb without anything which comes close to a service level agreement. Although the price per page is very economical a cartridge is not. Therefore none of the printers had ever printed more than 6000 pages. Schools are not able to afford the cartridge? They in most cases would be. Trouble again is the missing of planning and understanding of a long term investment: although every year the same during examinations schools realize only a few days before a deadline that the have to print out a bunch of pages. The small cartridge for the Lexmark laser printer costs 1600 N$ (220$) the XL cartridge 3800 N$ (530$). Such an amount of money usually cannot be made available on short notice. As a quick fix principles are taking the petty cash and run to the consumer store GAME to buy the cheapest ink jet printer they can get. As a result some schools have now several of those ‘throw-away’ printers – all out of ink.
After realizing how terrible things went wrong we put in a ‘express’ requisition for 22 XL cartridges. Within a week we had the purchase order – record. Unfortunately shipping the items from South Africa took the supplier another another five weeks. Much more important and tricky than ordering cartridges is the task Gabes, ICT Education Officer from Advisory services, has volunteered for: explaining the principles the benefits of saving money in the long run by budgeting for the XL cartridge. Good news is that our Regional Office will budget for one cartridge per school each financial year from now. Therefore also the schools with no money around will be able to print at least 21’000 pages a year.
For the last months making copies at the regional office had become playing the lottery: the machine indicated everything (paper jam, paper tray not detected, system error XY) but ‘yes-I-am-ready-to-make-you-a-copy’. Two weeks ago the ICT department’s new toy a Kyoceramita TASKalfa 300i arrived. Not just a copy machine – a multi function printer (MFP). I thought it is going to be a tough one to bring people away from the costly fax to a digital sender (scan2email) which is even in Europe not seen in every office yet. Guess I was wrong: a bunch of staff members already use it heavily! We are now trying to fast-track the process of filling the vacant ‘lithographer’ position together with HR: without supervision the device, although a rental with an SLA, will not make it till the end of next month. It brought me out in a cold sweat as I had to witness how a staff member was trying to put a piece of paper with glue remains into the feeder. For sure someone will try that again.
The ministerial GRN stamp follows you everywhere, also to the restrooms where it nicely decorates the toilet paper. We wouldn’t let some of the staff take some of those valuable government items home, would we (some of them really do – luckily our cleaners are always on alert). Of course also new IT equipment get its markings during the regular stock taking in the region. Instead of a stamp a soldering iron is usually used. What happens when the stock taking staff members not really know what they are marking is seen in the picture with the red marking – and this is not the only display in the region with such an fancy tag. Measures had been taken to safe the life of all the other displays;-).