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How BVR technology is poised to revolutionise voting in Kenya

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By GEOFFREY IRUNGU

Posted  Thursday, November 22  2012 at  22:43

In Summary

  • The importance of the BVR technology in the coming General Election is underlined by the fact that all voters will register afresh.
  • This is expected to avoid a repeat of the 2007 poll where 1.2 million dead voters are said to have voted.
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The biometric voter registration (BVR) project got mired in controversy the minute the initial tender was rejected and President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga were forced to intervene.

When the two principals came on the scene, it was decided that a government-to-government deal involving Kenya and Canada resolves the impasse.

The Canadian government arranged to have its fully-owned parastatal, Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), sign a contract with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) leading to the procurement of the biometric hardware, software, and documentation for the General Election.

CCC engaged another Canadian parastatal, Export Development Corporation, to get guarantees for financing from Standard Chartered Plc.

Thus, while StanChart would provide the loan to IEBC, this would be made cheaper by the guarantee from the Canadian government.

StanChart provided the loan at an interest rate of 5.12 per cent, which was lower than an earlier syndicated loan procured at 6.73 per cent, showing the importance of the guarantee from the Canadian government.

The fact that StanChart had dealt with the Kenya government previously, as one of the banks providing a $600 million syndicated loan, proved important in the negotiations.

The importance of the BVR technology in the coming General Election is underlined by the fact that all voters will register afresh.

This is expected to avoid a repeat of the 2007 poll where 1.2 million dead voters are said to have voted. Due to the anomaly, some observers held that it was difficult to establish who really won the 2007 presidential poll.

However, some officials at the Treasury were quick to blame IEBC for starting the process of procuring BVR technology late because, forcing the government to borrow cash and pay an insurance premium of Sh1 billion to the Canadian government for the guarantee it gave.

Finance minister Njeru Githae accused IEBC of negotiating a skewed contract, where the government was supposed to pay in advance for the kits, once negotiations failed to resolve outstanding issues by October 15.

Indeed, the loan was taken in order to pay for the kits even when delivery was yet to be ascertained.

girungu@ke.nationmedia.com

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