Kenya’s election commission CEO charged over biometric equipment purchase

The biometric equipment used in Kenya’s election is back in the news, as the CEO of the country’s electoral commission has been charged in anti-corruption court over the tender to purchase the machines.

Reported by Reuters, James Oswago, CEO of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission along with three other officials were charged at Kenya’s anti-corruption court with four counts of abuse of office and failing to comply with procurement regulations, on top of failing to inspect the machines to verify they were in working order.

The officials pleaded not guilty and have been released on bail.

Reported previously, following Kenya’s most recent election the machines were heavily criticized for technical problems which led to long delays and in many cases, non-functional verification devices.  There were reports of machines malfunctioning or shutting down completely.

According to a Government of Canada website, Face Technology provided EVIS, the piece of equipment used on voting day to identify voters at polling stations.

Following the election, the company said that it couldn’t be blamed for a failure by election officers to use the gadgets properly.

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 from 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.”

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