Economy

Sh220m Ruaraka data hub spending queried

Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu

Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu. PHOTO | NMG

The Auditor-General has raised the red flag on Sh220 million payments for the Ruaraka Data Centre overhaul following a fire outbreak.

A report by Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu said the State Department of ICT failed to provide documents to prove the fire incident.

She also noted that the request for the repair of the government data centre did not come from the Information and Communication Technology Authority (ICTA), which has been managing and maintaining the centre since September 2015.

“There was no detailed report on the fire outbreak indicating the date of its occurrence, the cause of the fire, the extent of the damage, and professional estimates for the cost of repairs,” Ms Gathungu said in the latest audit tabled in Parliament.

“The request for cash for the overhaul originated from the director, ICT of the Stare Department as opposed to ICTA who is charged with the responsibility of managing and maintaining the data centre.”

The Auditor-General says the priority, accuracy and validity of the Sh200 million could, therefore, not be confirmed under such circumstances.

Ms Gathungu observed that the requisition by the director of ICT was made on November 27, 2019, while the payment came on December 5, 2020 — a gap of more than a year.

The questionable spending was part of the items that prompted the Auditor-General to issue a qualified opinion on the books of account presented by the State Department of ICT.

Auditors issue qualified opinions when several items in the books of account offer limited scope for verification or have not properly applied accounting rules.

The same State Department for ICT was also flagged for direct payment of Sh4.4 billion from a Chinese lender to telecoms giant Huawei for the construction of the Konza Data Centre.

Direct payment flouted Article 206 of the Constitution, which requires that all money raised or received by or on behalf of the national government shall be paid into the Consolidated Fund.

Ms Gathungu also flagged Sh10.46 million spending that was wrongly posted in the books of accounts, which the State Department did not correct.