The Star (Nairobi)

12 November 2012

Kenya: French Trade Minister Defends BVR Kit Tender

HOW IT?S DONE: An IEBC agent demonstrates the use of a newly-acquired BVR kit at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani last week.

French Trade minister Nicole Bricq has come to the defense of the French firm which supplied the Sh7.2 billion biometric voter registration kits which arrived in the country last week.

Bricq defended the French firm --Sagem Morpho-- which she said has excellent technology which will meet all the requirements stipulated by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

The minister, who is making her first trip to sub-Saharan Africa since her June appointment, also defended the involvement of Canada in the BVR tender.

"I would like to underline the excellence of French technology, which Morpho is one of the illustrations. I'm sure your Kenyan authorities will be very satisfied by the biometric system developed by Morpho that has been delivered last week," she said in an interview with the Star.

On the involvement of Canada in the deal, Bricq said in modern global economy, industrial production can no longer, strictly, be confined to one country and said " a product always has many nationalities."

Critics of the deal argued that it would have been cheaper if the BVR's were purchased directly from France instead of being purchased through the Canadian government. The tender which originally cost around Sh4.6 billion has now shot up to Sh7.2 billion.

Bricq, who arrives this morning, is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Raila Odinga as well as other government ministers. The meetings will focus on bilateral trade opportunities, with an emphasis on the one hand on the know-how of French enterprises, and on the other hand, on the favourable economic environment in Kenya for further investments.

She will announce new measures to reinforce trade relations between France and Kenya. She is also scheduled to attend a presentation on the implementation of biometric registration at the IEBC headquarters tomorrow.

The IEBC is caught up in yet another fresh scandal, this time involving the tender for ballot papers.According to the Sunday Nation yesterday, the IEBC has reportedly awarded a British firm Smith & Ouzman the tender without due tendering.

Yesterday, IEBC Corporate Communications manager Tabitha Mutemi was quoted confirming the tender arguing that procurement laws allow the commission to ignore tendering if exceptional circumstances obtained.

In her exclusive interview with the Star, Bricq said France had invited several IEBC commissioners to the May 2012 French presidential elections "to actually see how to conduct an election in two rounds".

She said French companies prospecting for oil in Kenya were optimistic because the geological structure appears comparable to that of neighbouring Uganda that have already found oil and gas. She said Kenya was welcoming to French businesses and investors whose location here would benefit the region.

"Implantation in Kenya could be also become a good way for them to project to the rest of the region, because Africa, as recent international studies attest, will be in the coming years one of the most important consumer booming market. This is time for Africa," she said.

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