The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has announced that the tender process to acquire notebooks for students has concluded with five service providers acquiring the tender award and supplying the devices at various costs.

The cheapest notebook comes from Pinnacle at R3863.56 each, with the most expensive from AND Group at R6200 each.

A full breakdown of the five successful bidders is as follows, as announced by NSFAS:

No. Service provider name BBB-EE level Cost price for 1 laptop (all inclusive)
1 Pinnacle 1 R3863.56
2 CEOS Technologies 2 R5290.00
3 MLO Distinctive Solutions 1 R5300.00
4 East Side Group 1 R5750.00
5 AND Group 1 R6200.00

The above five successful suppliers come from 140 bids. The unsuccessful suppliers were stripped away for various reasons, such as not meeting the right level of BBB-EE (levels 1 or 2 were needed), not being a certified partner with an OEM, or not including a laptop bag with the device. That last part is of particular importance as the bags need to be produced right here in South Africa.

The full statement from NSFAS about the tender results and the process which lead to them can be found here.

“NSFAS has communicated the award to the successful service providers on 2nd November 2020, and it was accepted by all five service providers by 5th November 2020. NSFAS is in the process of completing the contractual arrangements with all five 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 ,” part of the statement reads.

So how did NSFAS do in terms of the price? If we’re looking at this from an end consumer standpoint the wide range of prices for the devices can buy a lot of different things.

If we look at one of the most popular online retailers in the country, Takealot, R3863.56 can buy you this Connex Edubook, a 14.1 inch notebook with an Intel Celeron J3160 , 4GB  of RAM and 64GB of storage. While we’ve not used this specific notebook before we have used devices with similar specs and we can report that it’s a miserable time even for relatively light text work which is what most students will care about.

On the other end of the spectrum for R6200, also on Takealot, there’s this Lenovo 300e. With an 11.6 inch screen Intel Celeron N4100 Processor, 4GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of storage (the store page lists both).

While these two examples may seem very familiar the processors, despite being in the same range, are vastly different as you can see in this comparison. The more expensive notebook, as expected, comes out on top.