Companies

IEBC on the spot over new deal for French digital firm

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IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati addresses journalists in Nairobi on September 1,2017. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Pressure to have the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) cut business links with French technology firm Idemia Identity and Securities Limited has intensified.
  • The company was in 2016 awarded a five-year contract to maintain IEBC’s Kenya Integrated Election Management System (Kiems) that hosts the register of voters.
  • The contract is set to end this month with the commission now pushing to have it renewed.

Pressure to have the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) cut business links with French technology firm Idemia Identity and Securities Limited has intensified just days after it emerged that the commission was pushing to have the firm’s contract renewed ahead of the 2022 General Election.

The company was in 2016 awarded a five-year contract to maintain IEBC’s Kenya Integrated Election Management System (Kiems) that hosts the register of voters. The contract is set to end this month with the commission now pushing to have it renewed.

Wednesday Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma said he has petitioned the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) of the National Assembly to summon IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati to explain why the commission cannot contract any other firm for the job.

“Idemia’s continued engagement with the IEBC in providing technology used in the elections will be a tragedy that we do not want to witness as a country in the coming days,” Mr Kaluma said.

The French firm was controversially awarded Sh6.8 billion to supply the Kiems kits used in the August 8, 2017 General Election. However, the kits failed on the election day and this was one of the reasons the Supreme Court relied on to nullify the presidential polls.

But despite the nullification, the company is yet to comply with the orders issued by the Supreme Court requiring it to open its servers used in the 2017 presidential election for scrutiny.

In April 2019, the National Assembly adopted the amended report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to block the French technology firm from doing business in the country for at least 10 years, citing a violation of the Companies Act.

However, the firm successfully appealed against the resolution of the National Assembly at the High Court.

The High Court directed that the offensive recommendations against the firm be expunged from the report adopted by the House. But the National Assembly has since appealed against the court judgment.

Other than the election related contracts, the company was also hired in 2019 by the government to supply 31,500 biometric kits for the registration of Huduma Namba.

The company has changed names thrice during the period it has had lucrative deals in the country.

In 2013, the firm supplied the multi-billion shillings biometric voter registration (BVR) kits under Safran Morpho before changing to OT-Morpho during the 2017 elections.