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Kenya: Minutes reveal how IEBC bought pollbooks


Standard Digital

By Moses Michira and Paul Wafula

March 26, 2013

NAIROBI, KENYAThe electoral commission, which conducted the March 4 General Election, bought voter identification gadgets without testing their technical capability.

Face Technology, the South African firm that supplied the equipment also known as poll books, won the tender before a technical evaluation was conducted among the five prequalified bidders.

A review of the tendering procedure by the public procurement regulator found out the tender to supply poll books was awarded to the South African firm, which participated in the Anglo Leasing scandal, on September 29 last year, three weeks before the technical evaluation among the shortlisted bidders.

This major procurement breach ensured firms that were to later demonstrate their capabilities for the task, like America’s Avante and France’s Safran Morpho were left out.

The public procurement regulator, however, found out IEBC had actually made its decision to award the tender to Face Technology more than three weeks before the October 22 demonstration of technical capabilities.

Minutes from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC and presented by Avante to the regulator indicated that the tender was actually awarded on September 29.

“…bidder number 3 M/S Face Technology be considered for the award of the contract at a total cost of Sh1.397724925 ($16651139.13),” reads part of the official information from IEBC’s September 29 meeting.

The regulator says since a decision had been made, the exercise of proof of concept was meaningless becauseFace Technology, whose devise had failed, had been shockingly declared the winner. The revelation now provides the critical answers to the billion-dollar question, what exactly went wrong in the voter identification during the last General Election conducted by IEBC?

The public procurement regulator fell short of cancelling IEBC’s tender, only allowing it to proceed in the greater public interest considering the time left, on its December 3, last year, terse ruling. IEBC’s defence was that Face Technology had the lowest quote at Sh1.39 billion disregarding its inability to produce the required equipment, compared to Safran Morpho’s Sh1.6 billion and Avante’s Sh2.1 billion.

Questionable tendering

IEBC’s motivation in awarding the tender to Face Technology was questioned by the regulator who established an uneven playing ground in the procurement process. Face Technology had presented a prototype that never worked at the tendering stage, but the IEBC inexplicably offered the firm another chance to demonstrate its technical capability.

A meeting between IEBC and the three prequalified bidders held on October 10, last year indicated Safran Morpho declined to parade its prototype, while Face Technology’s equipment fell short of the requirements in the tender document.

“(Avante’s prototype) can satisfactorily meet the specifications provided in the tender document for voter identification device,” further reads the report. “( Face Technology) did not demonstrate a prototype that met the proof of concept requirements as stipulated in the tender document.”

IEBC invited Face Technology and Safran Morpho in a subsequent demonstration, leaving out Avante, which had demonstrated its technical capacity, in a meeting held on October 22. Minutes of the meeting show Face Technology presented a different device from that submitted during the close of the tender, a major procurement breach, which the IEBC turned a blind eye to.

During the evaluation,Face Technologyprovided a prototype device, which lacked a spare power back-up of 12 hours that was marked as critical. It also did not have an original battery attached to the laptops that would last for 12 hours.

The device it supplied at this stage did not meet the requirement that its start-up and recovery time would last less than 30 seconds. This means the prototype ofFace Technology was taking longer to start than required. None of the companies that qualified for the second round of evaluation also provided gadgets that had unique identification numbers assigned by the manufacturers. Lack of this detail exposes the gadgets to difficulties in tracing the user and location in case they are used to hack into the system. The Board accuses the IEBC of being cosy with Face Technologyand finding small excuses with the other companies to disqualify them.

“It (IEBC) appears to have adopted in the processing of this tender, a scheme of nit-picking, when it came to the tenders of the bidders it did not favour, and one of cosiness when it came with the successful bidder (Face Technologies),” a report, critical of the process, reads in part.

The revelations come at a time when it emerged the electronic voting and transmission system could have been attacked at least twice before it finally crashed at 8pm on Election Day.

Kenya: IEBC Tender Team Quits Over Biometric Deal


 

AllAfrica.com

BY MOSOKU GEOFFREY

July 16th, 2012

Uncertainty hangs over the process of awarding the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) solution kits contract after the IEBC tender committee stepped aside last week. The team quit following weeks of squabbles pitting some IEBC commissioners against its secretariat and they have been tussling over which firm is the most suitable to be awarded the tender.

The Praxedes Tororey-led committee handed in their resignation on Friday, only days after CEO James Oswago appeared to reject their second report for the multibillion-shilling tender award. Oswago had written to the Public Procurement and Oversight Authority (PPOA) seeking guidance on the recommendation to award the tender to Face Technologies of South Africa that emerged third in cost evaluation.

Face Tech, which quoted Sh4.63 billion, was ranked third by the commission’s technical evaluation committee behind 4G Identity Solutions of India and Symphony of Kenya with bids of Sh3.76 billion and Sh3.98 billion respectively. The committee also short-listed OnTrack of Israel which was asking for Sh8.31 billion to carry out the contract of supplying IEBC with the electronic voter registration kits.

Earlier the committee had recommended the award to 4G Solutions of India but the report was returned for reassessment when claims cropped up that the firm had been blacklisted in India. A team of eight officers of the technical committee travelled to India in May on a due diligence mission. The technical team reportedly said that 4G had been cleared of the performance queries.

Sources within the commission now say some commissioners are pushing for Face Tech to be given the tender due to its experience having conducted voter registration in South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Lesotho and Sri Lanka. Their argument is that even though 4G was the lowest bidder, it has no experience in voter registration, having only been involved in Identity Card registration in India.

Out of the the 28 firms that bid for the tender, only Face Tech (55m US$), Canadian firm Code (56mUS$), and OnTrack of Israel (99m pounds) had the experience of having registered voters. This is said to have informed the decision to consider Face Tech, which came second in financial evaluation and number one in technical evaluation. OnTrack emerged number one in financial evaluation. However in price quotation, 4G emerged the cheapest.

Procurement expert Dennis Omondi argues that the price of the bidder is not the automatic consideration when awarding a tender but the experience and financial stability of the firm also matter. “If number one or even number two are disqualified for any reason, the Act allows procurement entity to evaluate up to the time they get a contractor who best meets their objectives,” Omondi says.

Omondi argues that the law provides for room in price negotiation before a contract is signed. However, Oswago said the law envisages the lowest bidder be awarded the contract. “You have to look at the law and see what it provides,” Oswago said. He further argued that the tender and evaluation committees are bound by law to work within the budget and available funds for that specific procurement of goods or service.

Section 26 (3) of the Procurement and Public Disposal Act of 2005 states; “All Public Procurement shall be (a) within the approved budget of the procuring entity and shall be planned by the procuring entity concerned through an annual procurement plan.” Oswago told the Star that “IEBC wrote to Treasury and sought Sh3.4 billion which we were provided with as it was within our annual plan and therefore I don’t think the tender committee will work outside this amount. I will defend my officers with my life if their report is within the law”.

The current stalemate is threatening to derail the process ad return the country back to the manual registers that the Johann Krieglar Report condemned for being responsible for the 2007 general election debacle. The IEBC has announced that it will begin a new voter registration exercise next month, and it is not clear which system will be used. Some 19 million eligible voters will be targeted. Yesterday, Oswago said he has not received the tender committee’s resignation letter, and the process will not be affected by the move. “I want to assure Kenyans that come 3rd or 4th of December, the county will have a new voters register using BVR.”

In 2010, Code Inc of Canada was awarded the tender for a pilot project in eight constituencies across the country and although Code was among the 28 initial firms and tendered for 55m US$ (Sh4.6b), it was knocked out by the technical committee.

 

Senegal: Contested Presidential Polls and Contract Risks If the Opposition Wins


AllAfrica.com

BY EXCLUSIVE ANALYSIS

January 27, 2012 27

ANALYSIS

On 26 February, presidential elections are due in which President Abdoulaye Wade will run for a third term, if the Constitutional Court rules Wade’s candidacy is legal, which is likely.

Wade will be able to mobilise rural support, but he is unlikely to win the endorsement of all the influential Sufi brotherhoods. He also faces growing unpopularity, particularly amongst youths and in urban areas, due to the rising cost of living and economic mismanagement. The elections are likely to go to a run-off, increasing chances of an opposition win. This would heighten contract risks in important sectors for foreign investors like construction, transport and tourism.

Divisions within the opposition and the lack of a nationwide base for most of the candidates will limit their chances of a win in the first round. However, the growing importance of the urban vote and a very likely rallying behind the leading opposition candidate after the first round – expected to be Moustapha Niasse, Macky Sall, Idrissa Seck or Tanor Diang – would increase their chances in the second round.

Popular singer Youssou N’dour, who announced his candidacy on 2 January, is unlikely to win political support among the elite but is popular amongst the youth, making him a possible kingmaker for the opposition in the second round.

An opposition victory would increase risks of corruption investigations and contract cancellations targeting major infrastructure contracts pursued by Wade and his son, powerful Transport and Infrastructure Minister Karim Wade. These include the new airport in Dakar or Dubai Ports World‘s contract for Dakar Port’s development.

Tourist resorts owned by consortiums in which Karim Wade is involved would also be at risk. Revisions would be likely to contracts recently signed by the Wade government, including the awarding of two oil exploration licences to African Petroleum in late November 2011. While contract and regulatory risks would be lower under another Wade term, he would most likely promote populist policies like increasing subsidies and revising contracts in the ailing power sector.

Protest risks will be high during these closely-contested elections, especially in the event of voting fraud allegations, further arrests of opposition leaders and Wade’s re-election. Risks will be highest in Dakar, Thies, Thivaouane and Kaolack.

Protests could escalate into riots, which would pose high risks of damage to government buildings, public transport and public utilities assets. Fighting between opposition and ruling party supporters will also pose moderate risks to individuals. On 22 December, a Wade supporter was shot dead in fighting between youths outside the Mermoz-Sacre Coeur city council.

Exclusive Analysis is a specialist intelligence company that forecasts commercially relevant political and violent risks worldwide.

Ghana: Procurement Authority calls for ceasefire over EC’s biometric brouhaha


Voter Registration
Image by crownjewel82 via Flickr

The Ghanaian Chronicle

The Public Procurement Authority (PPA), has appealed to parties involved in the procurement of equipment for the Biometric Voter Registration System to exercise restraint and wait for the court ruling on the matter.

“The PPA will urge all the parties concerned and the general public to exercise restraint as we await the ruling of the law courts in this matter.

The PPA is a creation of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) mandated to regulate, assess and ensure full compliance by entities to all the provisions of the Act. It does not undertake procurement on behalf of entities but rather seeks to build their capacities to enable effective implementation of the Act,” according to a statement issued in Accra.

The statement was to react to public concerns expressed over the procurement issues and see to bring to the attention of the general public the bare facts and apprise them on the status of the issue.

On the 15th of August, 2011, a petition was received by the PPA from a Complainant-Intelligent Card Productions Systems (ICPS) for an Administrative Review to be conducted in respect of a tender for the Procurement of the Biometric Voter Registration.

The Complainant per its Solicitor purported that their tender for that particular procurement had been disqualified by the Respondent-Electoral Commission on the basis of non-conformance with clause 22 (b) of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) by not submitting a Certificate of Incorporation.

This, the Complainant claimed, had not been specifically stated or pre-disclosed as a qualifying criterion in the tender documents as required under procurement principles.

The petition further contended that, contrary to the provisions of the Act 633, the Respondent-Electoral Commission invited seven firms instead of the previously five pre-qualified firms.

Thus, the Complainant deemed the action of the Respondent to be unfair, arbitrary, capricious and unconstitutional and therefore sought to secure a number of reliefs.

In response, the Respondent has denied the Complainant’s assertions. Following detailed review of documents and correspondence from both parties, the PPA called for the suspension of the tender process for 30 days to enable it conduct its administrative review of the matter.

However, before the PPA could conclude the administrative review process, it was notified by Solicitors of the Complainant that it has reinstituted legal proceedings against the Respondent.

Thus, the PPA is unable to proceed on the matter pending before court and, therefore, sub-judice. GNA

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