IEBC gets green light to procure Kiems kits

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The Public Procurement Administrative Board has quashed a petition challenging the procurement of the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System.

The development has handed the IEBC a reprieve to proceed with the crucial tender, which the review board had suspended on October 6.

PARB struck out the request for review by Smartmatic International Holdings BV for want of jurisdiction.

Jane Onyango, on behalf of the PARB chairperson Faith Waigwa, said the application could not stand as the petitioner was neither a bidder for the tender nor a candidate.

“To acquire jurisdiction in any matter before it, an applicant must demonstrate that it was a tenderer or a candidate in the procurement proceedings,” the ruling reads.

At the same time, the board cautioned litigants against approaching it for review without demonstrating they are candidates in the procurement proceedings.

The case was further thrown out on the grounds that Smartmatic referred to the wrong tender in its petition. It filed proceedings with respect to the tender issued on September 22.

The applicant, however, referred to the tender that was issued on April 14, which was cancelled by the IEBC and a fresh one advertised, albeit in respect of the same goods and services.

“In the event that we are wrong, the position is that the earlier tender had in fact been cancelled by an order of the board and thus any application for review can only be in respect of the tender advertised on September 22,” the ruling reads.

The IEBC has been rocked by tender intrigues, with the latest board decision expected to end the procurement debacle that has staged delays in procuring critical election management technology.

The near Sh4.5 billion Kiems tender suffered its first setback following a petition by Risk Africa Innovatis Ltd that cited a lack of 40 per cent local content and preference margins.

PARB allowed the prayers and ordered that the IEBC float a fresh tender for the supply, delivery, installation, and maintenance of the Kiems, associated hardware and accessories.

The commission, however, may not be out of the woods yet, as the initial order by the board was challenged and is active before Justice Juirus Ngaah at the High Court.

“The board notes that there is no contention that the contents of the fresh tender have failed to meet the specific orders of the board issued in the review 107 of 2021,” the ruling reads.

Concerns abound that the IEBC may not be adequately prepared for the upcoming general election, which is heavily dependent on the Kiems infrastructure.

The commission intends to buy about 10,000 voter identification tablets and upgrade its election database in preparation for the 2022 succession race.

In 2017, the commission sourced 45,000 Kiems kits from OT Morpho, which, it says, were implemented, tested and worked efficiently.

The IEBC projects there would be 53,000 polling stations in 2022, up from the 40,883 used in 2017. It is on building a foolproof system with a backend capacity to process information concurrently from the 53,000 tablets.

“The system shall be able to display transmitted results from approximately 53,000 polling stations,” the tender reads.

OT-Morpho, which supplied the Kiems kit in 2017, had not bid for the tender by the time the process was stopped by the board.

Indra Soluciones Tecnologias De La Informacion, Startmatic International Holding B.V, Genkey Solutions BV, Laxton Group Limited, and Africa Infrastructure Development Company submitted their bids.

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