IEBC to award Sh3.4 billion voters’ roll contract
The winner of the multi-billion tender to supply the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission with Biometric Voter Registration kits and Automated Finger Identification System is likely to be known this week. The tender, considered a high-sensitive security contract, has generated immense interest with rival firms attacking each other through the media.
IEBC is set to begin registering an estimated 18 million voters countrywide in preparation for the next general election which it has scheduled for March 4, 2013.The registration will comprise taking the biometric features of all eligible voters, including 10 finger prints and facial features, which will be used to identify them at polling stations.
The anticipated announcement of the winner follows due diligence visits by IEBC officials to the Indian 4G Identity Solutions and Kenyan Symphony, that are primed to win the tender. IEBC says integrity issues raised about 4G for the Sh3.4 billion tender for the BVR kits have been addressed.
In addition, Symphony whose turnover is estimated at $350 million, denied reports that portrayed it as financially incapable of undertaking the contract. Symphony further says it has adequate training capacity and denied that one of its affiliate firms, CAL, has been been blacklisted. IEBC shortlisted four firms namely 4G Identity Solutions which quoted Sh3.76 billion, OnTrack from Israel with Sh8.31billion, FaceTech from South Africa with a price tag of Sh4.63 billion, and Symphony from Kenya with a bid of Sh3.98billion. The companies were invited to Naivasha to demonstrate their ability to deliver, finance, train and commission the BVR.
The commission's vice chair Lilian Mahiri-Zaja said an eight-member team from IEBC which recently travelled to India on a due diligence mission established that 4G Identity Solutions has been cleared. “There were reports especially in the media that 4G had been blacklisted in India and thus the team had to travel, they found that the issues had been cleared,” Mahiri-Zaja said.
IEBC wrote to 4G and sought to visit their headquarters in Hyderabad, India and the eight who included five from IEBC, two from UNDP and one from IFES went to India between June 8 and 11. She said the team will hand over its report to the tender committee this week. The technical committee report will form the basis of the awarding of the tender. The tender committee is headed by Praxedes Tororey who is the director of legal affairs at IEBC.
Mahiri-Zaja yesterday said IEBC commissioners will not interfere with the work of the tender committee and therefore cannot reveal which firm will get the tender. Those who travelled to India from IEBC included Decimal Isalano (director Research and development), Dismas Ong'ondi (director ICT), Edward Kenga Karisa (director Finance and procurement), Abdrihaman Bilacha (director Risk and Compliance) and Godfrey Lemiso (Manager Logistics). They were accompanied by Margaret Mbugua (Procurement UNDP), Farhad Toghisu (IT associate UNDP) and Moses Owuor (IFES).
Yesterday, 4G Identity solutions chairman and CEO Sreeni Tripuraneni who is in the country to attend a bidders' conference for the Kenya Airports Authority tender said his company conducted itself above board and denied seeking the influence of certain people in government and private businesses to get the contract. Symphony has also denied that certain powerful people in the government are pushing for it to get the contract. “We are owned 100 per cent by Da Gama Rose family. All our business is legitimate and we have never asked of favours from any government quarters, including State House,” a senior manager of Symphony told the Star.
Tripuraneni said he is not aware of a May 29, 2012 letter by India's Planning Commission seeking to terminate an ID issuance contract issued by Unique Identification Authority of India. The Commission in a letter (No. 4(4)/57/101/UIDAI-2011) gave 4G Identity until June 16 to show cause why the contract should not be terminated for breach of the terms by sub-contracting to other entities.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had also advised IEBC not to engage in any business with the Indian firm. “We write to inform you that Kenya Mission in New Delhi has conducted preliminary due diligence based on the five areas listed in the letter under the reference. The Mission has requested us to convey their strong their strong advice that their findings indicate the above mentioned entity should not be allowed to enter into any business transaction with any government institution in Kenya,” John Lanyasunya, who heads the directorate of Asia and Australasia wrote to IEBC on May 31 on behalf of Foreign Affairs PS Thuita Mwangi.
4G Identity solutions' representative in Kenya Simon Yatich accused the firm's rivals of spreading reports that they had been blacklisted in India. “If you want to kill a dog give it a bad name,” Yatich said. Yatich said 4G followed due process while bidding for the tender and wondered why the credibility queries were arising now. “All the four firms which had been shortlisted from 29 had an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to the technical team that met in Naivasha. After that we received a letter from IEBC who wanted to travel to India for due diligence and that has been done,” he said.