Election 2020: IMANI takes on EC over Biometric Verification System claims

BY: Isaac Yeboah

Policy think tank, IMANI, has announced it has evidence contradicting claims by the Electoral Commission (EC) that its planned acquisition of a new Biometric Verification System for the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections will save millions of dollars for the country.

IMANI does not only challenge several claims by the EC in the line of cost saving, it also accuses the elections governing body of unhealthy practices, including rigging a tender process to suit the worst bidder to provide the said new system.
A letter by IMANI’s Franklin Cudjoe, Founding President & CEO announcing a press conference on Tuesday, March 10, at which it intends to make public the said evidence, argues that the EC stands to spend in excess of 150 million dollars if it goes ahead to procure a new system and compile a new voters register, when it can refurbish its existing system and conduct a limited registration exercise to capture voters not yet on the existing register at a cost of 15 million dollars.
Among other claims, IMANI argues the following:
  • That the EC’s claims that it will cost just $56 million to procure a new system whilst the cost of refreshing and maintaining the existing one would cost $74 million are untruths.
  • A sham tender recently completed by the EC has revealed that the EC plans to spend $72 million on hardware alone. IMANI believes that by the time software and services are added the total costs for technology alone will amount to $85 million. 
  • Compared to a limited registration to capture just those not on the voters’ register, a fresh mass registration shall cost $50 million. Refreshing the existing technology at competitive prices will cost just about $15 million. Hence the total loss to Ghana of the EC’s actions amount to $150 million, if one factors in contingency. If the fact that thousands of perfectly good equipment shall be thrown away is also considered, the total loss rises.
  • But economic cost is not the only thing to be worried about. The EC also bungled the procurement process, leaving a trail of evidence suggesting tender-rigging. This has opened the process to litigation and delay. 
  • The EC used one day to disqualify well-qualified bidders, claiming that they had reputational problems. 
  • The EC’s tender processes were so bad that the Chairman of the technical evaluation panel dissociated himself from the results forcing the EC to discard a 4-month process and compress it into a one-week evaluation. The company on whose behalf the tender was being manipulated is the only one whose score tally doesn’t add up. The EC insists that you must accept that 85 + 13 = 104 instead of 98. 
  • At any rate, the timeframe for negotiating a proper contract; designing better specifications to correct the many things the EC claims are wrong with the existing system; securing procurement approvals; integrating disparate software and hardware systems from different vendors; and deploying and testing the platform cannot be fitted within the EC’s artificial timeline of April 18th, 2020 for the commencement of registration. 
  • The proposed mediation process by Gamey & Co Alternate Dispute Resolution Center is wise and must be considered by all parties.