The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is seeking approximately Sh800 million to offset outstanding bills in order to secure the voters’ register.
Acting Chief Executive Officer Hussein Marjan told a parliamentary committee yesterday that the commission owes a foreign IT firm Sh798 million.
As a result, he pleaded with the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee to allocate IEBC more than Sh4.5 billion, including Sh2.3 billion for pending bills and Sh1.3 billion for voter verification.
Marjan was referring to a stalemate in which an IT firm that has been the custodian of the 2017 register has refused to transfer the data to the new firm hired by IEBC last year.
IDEMIA, formerly OT Morpho, a French firm, has refused to transfer the data to Smartmatic, an American firm that won the contract in November last year, citing unpaid bills.
Before providing technical services, IDEMIA is requesting Sh798 million from the 2017 elections, which includes withholding tax and euro exchange rates.
In November 3, 2021, IEBC awarded the tender for the supply and maintenance of Integrated Election Management Systems (Kiems) kit to Smartmatics International Holding B.V.
The firm won against other five bidders that include Risk Africa innovatis Limited, Indra Soluciones Tecnológicas De La Información, Genkey Solutions, Laxton Group Ltd and Africa Infrastructure Development Company.
Risk Africa innovatis Ltd, unsatisfied with IEBC’s decision, moved to court challenging the tendering process on grounds that the commission had not been fully constituted during the time it was conducting the procurement.
It also claimed that data migration had not been budgeted for when the tender was issued. Risk Africa was contesting the tender process for the second time.
The first time, it took the case to the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board, which directed IEBC to prepare a new tender document for the supply and maintenance of KIEMS kits for tender No. IEBC/ OIT/001/21/2020/2021 on September 20, 2021.
IEBC later challenged the decision in court, and High Court Judge Jairus Ngaah ruled that PPARB misapplied Section 2 of the Act on the tendering process.
According to reports over the monitored period, stakeholders were concerned that IEBC would be forced to directly procure KIEMS tender, with the current cases challenging the tender awarded to Smartmatic International Holding, as it did in the past.
The Kiems tender case, which has now been consolidated with another involving a tender for ballot printing papers, is scheduled to be heard in court this month.
The failure of Smartmatic International Holding’s MD Frans Gunnick to appear for a meeting with IEBC to sign the tender for Kiems has increased public concern about the commission’s ability to hold credible elections.
The IT team’s frustrations were revealed last month at a meeting in Naivasha attended by all commissioners and senior staff from the Secretariat and County Election Coordinators.
According to the presentation, the IDEMIA system purchased in 2012 has a capacity of storing data for 20 million, indicating that it is now at full capacity. Despite the fact that the IEBC has been registering new voters with BVR kits, the data cannot be processed or duplicated in their servers.
Similarly, thousands of Kenyans who had applied to have their polling stations changed or their personal information changed have not been able to do so because the BVR server storage capacity is full.