Finger-pointing begins over biometric device failures in Kenyan election

March 19, 2013 - 

The South African company that provided Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) with the biometric devices used in the country’s presidential elections earlier this month says it can’t be blamed for a failure by election officers to use the gadgets properly.

Reported in The Standard, this news comes as faulty biometric devices caused massive delays and problems during the March 4 elections.  Face Technologies is the company that provided the biometric identification machines.

Previously reported in, biometric verification machines were in many cases either shutting down or malfunctioning on election day.

In an email interview with The Standard, Ian Minty, the tender office executive manager at Face Technologies said the machines were assembled in China with components from the United States as well as from China.

“They were tested upon manufacturing in the factory by the Kenya Bureau of Standards before issuance of the required certificate of conformity,” Minty reported said in the email exchange. “They were also tested before and during training. No failures were reported.”

This being said, The Standard says that at the time of publishing, it had not seen a copy of the alleged certificate of conformity.

According to Face Technologies, some operators did not follow correct log in or operating procedures, or did not properly charge the three batteries supplied with each devices before voting began.

According to the report in The Standard, “jamming of the database server, which was receiving the information from the mobile handsets from the various polling centres, also helped to collapse the project.”

Reports have also surfaced suggesting that the IEBC ignored warnings to shelve the electronic identification system, as several weaknesses were noted. According to all Africa, the IEBC director of ICT, Dismas Ong’ondi wrote an internal memo to management warning of these weaknesses, and also stated that “Face Technologies had changed the model it had presented during the evaluation phase of the tender.”

Also in the All Africa report, “the South African firm won the tender for more than 30,000 poll books after quoting Sh1.4 billion, which was lower than Safran Morpho’s bid of Sh1.54 billion and Avante Technologies’ Sh2.2 billion.”

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga is now demanding an audit of the entire electronic system used in Kenya’s presidential elections. 

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About Adam Vrankulj

Adam Vrankulj is an editor for His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj