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Sita tender awarded next month, mum on cost

By   |  October 24, 2005

The State Information Technology Agency (Sita) will release results of South Africa\’s largest open source tender yet as early as mid-November, with implementation likely to begin in January next year.

The tender will see a preferred list of vendors supplying open source software and technical support to the government over three years.

Sita GM Sidwell Ngqandu says that if everything goes well, the tender winners will be announced in mid-November. “I can\’t give an exact date at this point,” he says, “but we first have to come up with an evaluation, make a short list and then test bid.”

Ngqandu says that the response from developers has been heartening. “Not less than 12 vendors applied for the project and six were highly specialised in open source principles,” he says.

In the next three to four years, Sita expects a gradual uptake of open source software of between 20 and 30 percent within government, says Ngqandu.

Ngqandu declined to estimate what the tender is worth. He says that Sita can\’t put a number on what the government expects to spend, adding that the cost analysis will depend on the product more than anything else. Ubuntu, for example, is free software, but the services to run it aren\’t free.

The deal will see intellectual property growth in South Africa, says Ngqandu. This will also result in the grooming of the ICT industry in South Africa, via South African products, which in turn will stimulate technology development and growth.

Ngqandu says the government expects a reduction in software and technology costs. In that way, he says, there\’s more money to plough into other areas of development. There\’s also more security around our technology, because it is home-grown.

Ngqandu is firm believer in open source solutions. “Although open source software hasn\’t been [fully] embraced, the surge of skills is going to stimulate interest.”

Open source vendors bidding for the tender were quick to trump up their chances but remained mum on bid estimates.

Obsidian Systems MD Muggie van Staden is confident about his company\’s prospects in the bid. Obsidian has been involved in providing software solutions for the past decade to many government structures, varying in size from small to medium enterprises.

Open source business development manager at IBM South Africa, Joe Ruthven, believes that the global corporation has strong credentials. “As IBM is the biggest commercial investor and supporter of Linux it makes us a very viable candidate. When you couple this with our years of experience in large organisations and our more than 3 000 existing Linux customers worldwide, SITA probably couldn\’t go wrong with IBM.”

But he declined to on the price. “We do not divulge financial and pricing information as this is IBM and customer confidential,” said Ruthven.

ImpiLinux MD, Gary Fortuin, declined to give comment. “I really don\’t think it will be in my best interest to speak about the tender before it is awarded. I don\’t want to hurt or damage my chances,” says Fortuin.

Update: Gary Fortuin, MD of ImpiLinux, did not respond to our request for comment as \”it was a condition of the tender, section 5.2, \’Media and Press releases\’, that no comments are to be made to the media without the co-ordination of SITA\”. His comment is below.


One Response to “Sita tender awarded next month, mum on cost”

  1. Gary Fortuin
    October 24th, 2005 @ 12:00 am

    Hi Guys
    The comment I made wrt the SITA tender was not completed. Please add that it was a condition of the tender, section 5.2 Media and Press releases, that no comments are to be made to the media without the co-ordination of SITA.

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