6 June 2014

Kenya: Safaricom Welcomes Surveillance Deal Probe

Nairobi — Safaricom on Friday welcomed the parliamentary probe into the Sh14.9 billion Public Safety Communications Project which has generated controversy over how it was awarded.

Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore said he was ready to appear before the parliamentary committee probing the contract.

"In the interests of transparency, Safaricom Limited welcomes the move by the Parliamentary Committee on Security and Administration to scrutinise the deal and we would therefore like to assure Parliament of our full cooperation during life of the probe," Collymore said.

The government last month awarded Safaricom Limited the tender to build and deliver a Public Safety Communications and Surveillance solution for the National Police Service.

The project has however been fraught in controversy after two committees of the National Assembly raised queries into its procurement and has ordered its suspension until Parliament approves it.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have both defended the security contract awarded to Safaricom, saying all required procedures were followed.

The National Assembly Committee on Administration and National Security led by Asman Kamama on Thursday met with Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku and Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo and demanded it be furnished with a comprehensive report from the minister on why the contract was single-sourced.

Under the deal, Nairobi and Mombasa will be the first two beneficiaries of the surveillance contract.

The contract requires Safaricom to install hundreds of CCTV cameras, bring in the latest technology, including facial recognition software, create a national command and control centre and link nearly 200 police stations.

Kamama said direct procurement only applies in monopolistic sectors where only one entity can competently supply the goods, works or services required.

In its 10 day probe, the Security Committee will summon Safaricom's management, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, his Information, Communication and Technology counterpart Fred Matiang'i, Attorney General Githu Muigai, Communication Authority of Kenya officials and other stakeholders to shed light on the project's authenticity.

Three MPs from the Energy and Communication Committee had also raised queries about the project, arguing that giving Safaricom the contract amounts to exposing the country's security.

The MPs questions linger over the ability of Safaricom to deliver and whether it would be right to allow them access to such a sensitive national project.

But according to a statement from the Safaricom CEO stated: "the cutting edge system will run on an independent LTE security communications network using designated International Telecommunications Union standards. It will therefore not run on Safaricom's commercial network."

Collymore added: "The management and control of the new system will however be the sole prerogative of the National Police Service."

The project will in the first phase focus on Nairobi and Mombasa cities. It will thereafter be scaled up to other parts of the country in accordance with government plans.

Safaricom will spend Sh14.9 billion then bill the government later.


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