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South Africa still waiting for biometric system upgrade after spending whole budgeted amount

South Africa still waiting for biometric system upgrade after spending whole budgeted amount

South Africa paid out more than 280 million South African rand (approximately US$16.7 million) to EOH Holdings half a decade ago under a massive biometrics contract. That was just the beginning of a series of investments for which the country received little in return, according to local outlet City Press.

Home Affairs and the State Information Technology Agency originally awarded the contract for R300 million, the report states, and the overall project cost has been estimated as high as R400 million, but had been unable to deliver the upgrade before the project was turned over to its subcontractor, Idemia.

That original contract to upgrade the Home Affairs National Information System (Hanis) to the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) was tainted by corruption, according to a forensic audit carried out by Nexia SAB&T and confirmed days ago by Home Affairs.

EOH says it was failed by Home Affairs, which did not provide necessary infrastructure and data. A representative of the company says delivery of the hardware and software deliverables of the contract triggered milestone-based payments. The reasons for the delays are now being considered in arbitration between EOH and Home Affairs.

EOH has now filed a suit for R128 million with interest, as the company representative says it managed to meet 51 of 60 deliverables in the projects first phase. The company claims to have collected R282 million, including tax.

Idemia was contracted for six months for R150 million ($8.9 million) in April, 2021, and subsequently asked for an extension through October. That deadline passed, and another was requested, an unnamed source told City Press. The ABIS system is still not up and running, and South African Police say they have been hindered in performing their duties.

The source also alleges that Home Affairs Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi instructed senior and legal officials to recover funds from EOH and Idemia.

Meanwhile, NEC XON, which lost out in bidding for the contract when it went to Idemia, is now suing the department and Motsoaledi, as well as the above businesses.

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