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Ekemp fails demonstration of its biometric election technology, claims unfair treatment

Ekemp fails demonstration of its biometric election technology, claims unfair treatment

It appears concerns raised by Liberia’s Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) about the firm selected to provide biometric materials and equipment for voter registration may have been valid, according to FPA Online.

Chinese firm Ekemp, which Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) identified as its preferred supplier for voter ID cards and other biometric election materials, failed to prove that its system was minimally functional during a demonstration of its capabilities.

The PPCC’s concerns about Ekemp originally focused on fairness and transparency in the evaluation process for the contract, which is worth close to US$12 million. Ekemp, which partnered with the Nigerian firm INITS Limited and Liberian insurance company Palm Enterprises for the bid, was asked to repeat a demonstration of its data entry, printing, and ID verification processes — and raised eyebrows when it was unable to print a card on the spot.

Naturally, failure to complete one of the basic requirements for the tender has made the PPCC dig in its heels and insist on a do-over. In a letter to the NEC, the PPCC’s executive director, Jargbe Roseline Nagbe-Kowo, stated that “the NEC’s justifications tendered cannot suffice, given that they do not address the anomalies PPCC indicated, as per the September 9, 2022 communication that established the need to re-evaluate; also considering re-demonstration of the performance and functionalities of the biometric system.”

Feeling the pressure, Ekemp and its partners were quick to blame its shortcomings on temporal sabotage. In an official complaint, it said that an interruption, during which observers asked the presenting firm to connect their tablet to a projector, cost them the time they needed to print out the ID card as required.

Expect sniping between the two sides to continue, as the NEC struggles to replace its much-maligned optical manual registration system with biometric technology.

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