Positivo entered Rwanda at the government’s request in 2015, aiming to propel technological progress. The initial agreement involved the purchase of 150,000 computers annually to equip primary and secondary schools with technology, facilitating Smart Classroom initiatives. However, due to budget constraints, the government later revised the agreement to acquire 40,000 laptops per year.
Soon after the release of Positivo laptops, concerns emerged regarding their quality. Students reported technical defects within a few days, coupled with limited capacity hindering essential tasks. Criticism also arose due to the quick deterioration of the laptop’s exterior paint.
While facing scrutiny over quality concerns, Positivo never acknowledged any responsibility, asserting that the laptops met the agreed-upon standards with the Rwandan government. Despite the initial focus on primary and secondary schools, the laptops found their way to universities and government employees.
Positivo BGH expanded its laptop offerings, introducing models priced at US$1,500. However, the company’s challenges extended beyond product quality, encompassing operational inefficiencies resulting in financial losses.
To implement the government contract through Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA) and Positivo BGH, the distribution responsibility was assigned to Africa Investment Smart Distribution (ASID). The government supplied computers to ASID on credit, with ASID responsible for payment after selling them. In 2021, the Auditor General of State Finances revealed that ASID owed the government Rwf3.35 billion for 19,449 computers not paid for.
Despite these hurdles, Positivo BGH had ambitious plans for Rwanda, including the production of Sonny’s VAIO computers, opening stores catering to the Rwandan market, and diversifying into manufacturing televisions, air conditioners, and other products. Additionally, the company had commenced making power meters for Rwanda Energy Group (REG).
As of now, these projects remain unrealized, and with the expiration of the contract with the Rwandan government, uncertainty surrounds Positivo’s future in the country. Discussions between Positivo and the government are ongoing, but no decision has been reached.
The company has temporarily ceased manufacturing computers and power meters, and despite the challenges faced, Positivo’s management has not publicly attributed blame, citing a perceived lack of engagement from the Rwandan government.
Efforts to obtain clarification from RISA, overseeing the collaboration, have been unsuccessful, adding to the ambiguity surrounding Positivo’s future operations in Rwanda.