FB pixel

US gets involved after Ekemp tip of Liberian biometric voter card contract win

Categories Biometrics News  |  Elections  |  ID for All
US gets involved after Ekemp tip of Liberian biometric voter card contract win

China-based biometrics firm Ekemp allegedly listed the Liberian National Elections Commission (NEC) as one of its clients for biometric voter ID cards on its website, despite a pending approval of the agreement by the country’s Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC).

The news was revealed by FrontPageAfrica, which reportedly observed the NEC’s logo, alongside Suprema’s, Next Biometrics’ and others, at the bottom of Ekemp’s website.

The China-based company allegedly removed all the logos from its website upon the publication of the FrontPageAfrica original article earlier today, but their presence may be indicative of a wider issue.

In fact, the events have led to suspicion of a compromise between NEC and its chosen company for the supply of materials for the upcoming biometric voter registration.

According to FrontPageAfrica, six companies competed for the NEC biometric contract: Network Solutions, Election Services, Waymark, Infotech, HID Global, Ekemp and Laxton.

However, only the latter three companies qualified for the final round, with Laxton being reportedly disqualified for submitting biometric kits with laptops instead of tablets with fingerprint scanners.

The remaining two finalists, HID Global and Ekemp, reportedly presented almost the same biometric kits with tablets and fingerprint scanners, but only the former company satisfied the security feature specification of the bid document.

A pair of parliamentary committees have been tasked with investigating the decision and advising lawmakers. According to FrontPageAfrica, they are expected to recommend the contract, and the biometric registration exercise it was to support, be canceled.

The ‘diplomatic note’ controversy

On the same day of the publication of the original FrontPageAfrica article, the Daily Observer said the U.S. government had sent a diplomatic note to the Liberian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The letter reportedly requested a specimen of the 2023 national voter registration card to enable the U.S. to check the biometric technology first-hand after the Ekemp debacle (and despite the fact the company reportedly failed to meet the requirements of the electoral body’s procurement team).

The U.S. Embassy in Monrovia did not seem to enjoy the speculation, however, and less than 24 hours from the events that characterized the beginning of the controversy released a statement denying having addressed a diplomatic note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“[We have] seen the reporting on the NEC’s Biometric [Voter Registration] System and would like to correct the record,” reads the press statement.

“At no point in time did the Embassy send the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia an official Diplomatic Note, or any other communication, with the request to acquire a sample or specimen of the 2023 national voter registration card.”

Further, the statement called for the PPCC to “fulfill its mandate of ensuring integrity and transparency in the procurement process so that the Liberian public gets full value for money in the use of public funds.”

Doubling down on the statement, the Daily Observer then published an additional article, according to which Thelma Duncan-Sawyer, Liberia’s deputy minister for Administration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed the Ministry received the diplomatic note in fulfillment of a request.

The controversy comes amidst a push toward biometric technology for the next general elections (taking place in 2023) in Liberia, which started more than a year ago and recently included the transition from optical mark recognition for secure voter registration to fingerprint biometrics.

For context, this is not the first time NEC has been under public scrutiny in recent months. Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah faced a writ of arrest in January after being indicted for overbilling for renting 20 contactless biometric thermometers last year.

Article Topics

 |   |   |   |   |   |   | 

Latest Biometrics News


Ryanair accused of GDPR violations with biometric passenger verification

Travel policy advocacy group eu travel tech has lodged a formal complaint with the French and Belgian Data Protection Authorities…


Police in US cities that ban facial recognition asking others to do it for them

A major report in the Washington Post has found that law enforcement officers in U.S. several cities where facial recognition…


European Union Digital Identity Regulation takes effect

The European Union Digital Identity (EUDI) Regulation entered into force on Monday meaning that Member States will be required to…


Real-world insight into building impactful digital ID programs at ID4Africa Day 2

Executives of digital ID and biometrics companies took the front seat on Day 2 of the ID4Africa annual general meeting…


Koodoo, Verto among businesses using Resistant AI’s document forensics

Resistant AI, a Prague-headquartered firm that offers AI-powered KYC monitoring and identity forensics, has scored a couple of new contracts…


Abuja biometric smart card program to facilitate smart city digital transformation

The CEO of the Havel Corporate Concept, an affiliate of Nigerian hardware and data protection firm ioSafe Nigeria, says July…


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Featured Company