Credible information gathered by this reporter clearly absolves the Electoral Commission (EC) from any wrongdoing in the matter relating to the selection of a vendor for the New Biometric Voter Management System.
Some groups opposed to the compilation of the voters’ register claim that the EC bungled its procurement process, leaving a trail of evidence suggesting tender-rigging. This has opened the process to litigation and delay.
However, information gathered by our reliable sources point to the contrary as the EC duly followed all the procurement procedures as far as the procurement of the New Biometric Voter Management system is concerned.
The information indicates that three Notifications of Award of Contracts for the refurbishment and upgrades of the data centre. Refurbishment of Biometric Verification Devices (BVDs) and the Biometric Voters Register (BVRs) were issued to Super Tech Limited (STL) in June 2018.
“The notification of Award of Contract was to enable the Commission to conduct the 2018 referendum for the creation of new regions and the Limited Registration Exercise ahead of the 2019 District Level Elections.
“The contract was for Fifty-Six Million United States Dollars ($56M). The new Executive of the Electoral Commission (EC), upon assumption of office, cancelled these contracts. They were of the view that the situation on ground should be studied carefully to ascertain whether there was the need for all those items mentioned in the notifications or not,” the highly placed source said.
Again, at the 7th ETC meeting on 12th June 2019, the Chairperson briefed Members that the Commission had decided to replace the Biometric Voter Management Solution (BVMS) used by the EC since 2012. She explained that the EC engaged the services of the Biometric Technology Consultant who advised the EC in 2011 when the decision was taken to introduce biometric technology in Ghana’s electoral process.
The first Pre-Qualification advert was placed in the Daily Graphic of 16th April 2019 for interested tenderers to show interest by submitting Pre-qualification Documents. Submission of documents was on 30th April, 2019 but was extended to 7th May, 2019.
“The Commission, before the procurement process ended, cancelled the tender on 22nd July, 2019. That was a result of complaints about the high financial requirement for pre-qualification which hindered a lot of companies that purchased documents from tendering. Seventeen (17) companies purchased the Pre-qualification Documents but only nine (9) companies submitted their documents,” it explained.
The Commission after the cancellation reduced the financial turnover required from $300,000,000 to $150,000,000. The Commission further divided the procurement package into two lots (Hardware and Software) to reduce the dominance/influence of one vendor over the system. On 20th August 2019 the second advert for Pre-qualification of tenderers for Hardware and Software was published in the Daily Graphic. Submission of Pre-qualification documents.
The Public opening of the 4th October, nineteen (19) companies in total submitted Pre-qualification documents, saying Ten (10) companies submitted for Hardware (Ekemp, NEC West Africa, Thales, Miru Systems, Activate Tech Limited, Pura Group, Idemia, Smartmatic, Indira Solutions and Buck Press) and nine (9) companies submitted documents for Software (Idemia, Zetes, Ekemp, NEC Africa, Miru Systems, INITS, Thales, Indira Solutions and EOH Mthombo Limited).
One of the shortlisted companies, GenKey Solutions BV was late for the public opening, therefore their tender was rejected according to our reliable source.
Consequently, an Evaluation Panel (EP) constituted by the Chairperson to evaluate the companies shortlisted Miru Systems Co. Ltd, Buck Press, Smartmatic International Holdings and Thales Digital Identity Solutions, Idemia and Zetes.
The source further indicated that a Technical and Financial report submitted to Central Tender Review Committee (CTRC) revealed that Thales Digital Identity Solutions was the most responsive among the other companies. The EC is in the process of negotiating and awarding the contract.
This reporter will give a blow-by-blow account of how the EC selected a vendor for the new biometric voters register in the coming days.