Sh4.6b interest free loan to acquire BVR kits

A concessionary loan bears no interest or comes with a rate of interest that is below the average cost/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 17 – The Kenyan government will now spent Sh4.6 billion to acquire Biometric Voter Registration kits from Canada.

The cost which will be funded through a concessionary loan from the Canadian government is Sh700 million higher than the Sh3.9 billion that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission had budgeted for BVR kits.

According to the chairman of the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) Abdikadir Mohammed, the government will acquire 15,000 kits as opposed to the initial 9,000 kits budgeted for by the IEBC.

A concessionary loan bears no interest or comes with a rate of interest that is below the average cost.

“The government is confident that very soon they will be acquiring the equipment – negotiations have been going on very well,” he said at Parliament Building of the deal has been under negotiations since last week.

“They were complaining of us giving them Sh3.9 billion, now they (IEBC) have that amount to utilize for other functions because this acquisition is being done using resources outside their budget,” added the Mandera Central MP.

A Canadian firm, Code Incorporated which won the tender for the electronic voter registration pilot project in 2010 is highly touted to be awarded the tender.

The IEBC intended to use the Optical Mark Reader – which was utilised in the 2010 referendum – to register 18 million voters after cancelling the BVR tender.

The move by the IEBC to cancel the BVR tender and revert to manual registration using the (Optical Mark Reader) elicited widespread disapproval by Kenyans including political leaders, Members of Parliament, the Executive and Civil Society.

Two weeks ago, the Cabinet also weighed in, advising the IEBC to use the BVR system in next year’s polls saying it will help build public confidence in the electoral system.

Ten days ago, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission after a meeting with the President, Prime Minister and several Cabinet Ministers agreed that the Biometric Voter Registration kits be procured in a government-to-government arrangement, in a move to ensure faster delivery in time for the March 2013 general elections.

The decision to revert to BVR kits was made alongside another in which the government was expected to initiate amendments to the Elections Act, to reduce the period for closure of the voters register from 90 days to 45 days before the elections.

IEBC chairman Isaack Hassan early this month told a joint parliamentary committee, that the decision to cancel the BVR tender was made after the process became ‘murky’ and after it was infiltrated by ‘extraneous’ factors.

“Two of the four short listed bidders failed the due-diligence test; while the other two quoted above the commissions’ budget. The nation is disappointed, we are also disappointed but nothing is lost. We’ve learned our lesson. I know we’ve tripped, but we’re not out,” the IEBC chairman said at the time.

Out of the four firms shortlisted for the tender, 4G Identity Solution was ranked first quoting Sh3.72 billion, followed by Systems Integrated Limited at Sh3.85 billion; Face Technologies was third quoting Sh4.78 billion while On Track Innovations was ranked fourth quoting a price of Sh8.22 billion.

Mohammed said that the CIOC met on Thursday morning to discuss the report on the joint committee of CIOC and the Legal Affairs Committee’s that has been investigating IEBC’s preparedness ahead of the March 2013 elections.

LORDRICK MAYABI

Lordrick is a graduate of the University of Nairobi with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. He is passionate about political and governance issues. He also takes keen interest in human rights matters, justice and is fond of sports.