The electoral commission on Thursday gave a strong signal of awarding the Sh3.9 billion biometric tender to a locally owned firm, Africa Symphony.
The new tender committee formed by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chief executive James Oswago declined to award the tender to the lowest bidder, 4G Identity Solutions from India, which had quoted Sh3.7 billion.
It instead preferred to conduct due diligence on the locally-owned firm, that quoted Sh3.8 billion.
A statement dispatched to newsrooms said: “The Tender Committee, having considered all pertinent documents, including the results of the due diligence on the lowest evaluated bidder that is 4G Identity Solution Pvt, has decided not to award the tender for the Biometric Voter Registration kits to the lowest evaluated bidder.”
Mr Oswago did not give the reason for dropping the Indian company.
Sources within the commission revealed that some revelations from the Nation Security Intelligence Service also influenced the decision against two leading foreign companies.
A letter from the Foreign Affairs ministry to the IEBC warned against awarding the Indian firm on claims it had been blacklisted at home.
“We have decided that, due diligence be undertaken on the next lowest evaluated bidder, Africa Symphony, as per the provision of Regulation 52(2) of the Public Procurement and Disposal Regulations, 2006,” he added.
IEBC chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan also moved to clarify that the bid bond validity had 34 more days.
It is within that period that a team to be formed would seek to evaluate the suitability of the African Symphony in undertaking the contract.
That, however, means that voter registration, which was expected to start in August, will delay as other losing companies may want to challenge the award in court.
The winning company is expected to supply over 9,700 Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits, train commission staff on how to use them and maintain and take charge of the BVR database.
But further intrigues are to be expected given the local ownership of the new bid favourites, the sensitivity and security nature of the tender itself, and the volatility of the local politics regarding the polls.
Last night Mr Oswago and top commission directors met to discuss the appointment of a new due diligence committee expected to inspect the bid favourites.
Sources at the IEBC indicated that the team may have to travel to Asia to inspect a partnering company said to be owning the solution to be used in developing a unique software to the specification of the IEBC.
Other firms that were short-listed were Face Technologies Limited from South Africa and Ontrack Innovations from Israel.