THE Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission will this week announce the winner of the multi-billion Biometric Voter Registration tender.
The commission appointed a new tender committee on Monday to fast-track the completion of the tender after the original committee resigned last weekend. "The new team began its work immediately. By Thursday, we will announce to the country the firm which has been awarded the tender," IEBC CEO James Oswago said yesterday.
The initial tender committee resigned at the weekend following disagreements with the evaluation committee over the tender for BVR kits and automated finger identification. The delay has allegedly been partly caused by senior officials in the Office of the President, who have been making phone calls for a company that was not the lowest bidder, the Star learned yesterday.
It has also emerged that the previous committee chair Praxedes Tororey clashed with vice chair E. Karisa over procurement rules. The new tender committee was formed after a day-long meeting between Chief Electoral officer James Oswago and the directors on Monday. It is chaired by IEBC's director for voter registration and electoral operations, Immaculate Kassait.
The commission is pressure to meet the deadlines so that the election can take place on March 4, 2013. The IEBC shortlisted four firms including 4G Identity Solutions of India which quoted $45 million (Sh3.72 billion), Symphony of India whose bid was $47.5 million (Sh3.9 billion), Face Technologies of South Africa at $55.3 million (Sh4.6 billion) and OnTrack of Israel at $99.4 million (Sh8.2 billion).
The committee later awarded the tender to Face Technologies of South Africa which ranked third behind 4G Identity Solutions of India and Symphony of Kenya against the recommendation of the evaluation committee which recommended the Indian firm. The Public Procurement and Oversight Authority advised last week that the tender be awarded to the lowest bidder. PPOA subsequently cautioned that the tender committee was not allowed by law to modify the recommendations of the evaluation committee.
In 2009, Face Technologies which was making driving permits ran into problems with the Uganda Revenue Authority after it refused to settle $2 million in tax arrears. In the same year, the South African firm was also accused of causing $3million loss to NSSF of Uganda after it was contracted to set up an integrated management information system that failed to work.
Symphony, a 33 years old IT company based in Kenya, has undertaken large IT project for the Kenyan government. It has also worked in Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Burundi, with a 200-man development center in India for its Healthcare solution. It is currently working with a German company Dermalog who are experts in fingerprint identification.
The Canadian company Code Inc approached Symphony over possible technical assistance in case they won the tender but Symphony declined. Code successfully conducted the trial run for BVR in Kenya of 1.5 million voters in 18 constituencies last year. 4G Identity Solutions, which is based in Hyderabad, has conducted around 50 projects in India.
The Kenya High Commission in India in May recommended that they should not be awarded the tender because of queries over a sub-contract in Aadhaar. However sources said this was just a 'show cause' that was successfully answered by 4G. IEBC yesterday announced 2900 vacancies for registration clerks who will carry out the voter registration exercise countrywide for 30 days using the BVR. The IEBC is currently preparing to roll out electronic voter registration countrywide after the High Court retained the 80 new constituencies with only a few alterations.