Response: SA company delays Kenya poll

2013-03-31 10:00

On March 10, City Press published an article headlined “SA company delays Kenya poll”. Face Technologies has since pointed out the following inaccuracies in the article.

1 Reported: SA company delays Kenya poll response: Face Technologies did not delay the Kenya poll.

2 Reported: A South African company supplied the electronic biometric registration kits that threw the Kenyan election into disarray on Monday.

The Pretoria-based IT company, Face Technologies, supplied the hardware and software, which was used for biometric voter authentication on voting day. This was according to Ian Minty, the company’s executive manager.

The kits were meant to ensure that voters could use their fingerprints to verify their presence on the voters’ roll.

But the system failed and voting stations had to resort to paper records and manual registration, which slowed down the voting process.

Response: Face Technologies provided the Electronic Voter Identification Devices (EVIDs) and was not involved in the operational side of the project which was the responsibility of the IEBC. This responsibility included, among others:

» Final operator training

» Voter data (SD cards) loading on the EVIDs

» Logistics

» Distribution of the EVIDs

» Final charging of the three EVID batteries (one to operate and two spares)

We note that the media refers to multiple failures of these devices. Face Technologies would like to state that the failure of operators to:

» follow correct login procedures;

» correctly operate the EVIDs;

» install the SD cards into the EVIDs; and

» charge the three batteries supplied per device before operations does not constitute technical failure of the devices themselves.

Face Technologies placed technical support staff at the 17 regional offices across Kenya to provide technical support during the elections.

We have to date not been supplied with a single EVID that allegedly failed to allow us to conduct tests or verify the allegations. We have also not received any communication from the IEBC on the alleged failure of the EVIDs.

All the EVIDs used in the repeat elections of 18 March 2013 operated flawlessly, without “failures” and utilising the same technology as on March 4 2013.

This was independantely reported on KTN TV Prime News on March 18 2013 by three IEBC staff involved with these elections, as well as independent reporters.

3 Reported: Minty said: “Face Technologies has not received any communication about these failures. We cannot comment on press reports.”

Face Technologies won the $55 million (R499.5 million) tender for the kits despite the company not being the lowest bidder.

The new technology was introduced to stop the widespread vote-rigging in Kenya that led to the killing of more than 1?200 people in post-election violence in 2007/08.

Response: This statement is factually inaccurate:

» The Face Technologies’ price for this IEBC tender was considerably less than the figure quoted above and we were in fact the lowest qualified bidder. 15 International Companies submitted responses for this tender.

» We presume the report is referring to the separate Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) tender that was published by the IEBC early in 2012 and was later cancelled. The IEBC later contracted a French company to provide the BVR requirements.

4. The system was also supposed to set up communication between voting stations and central voting centres to collate votes but connectivity problems caused massive delays and, in some areas, counting had to be redone.

Response: This statement is factually inaccurate:

» The Election Results System, a totally separate system provided by the IEBC, was used for the collation, communication and for the publication of the election results. Media reports indicated that this system was the major cause of delays and problems with elections results. Please also refer to media responses by Safaricom, a Kenyan company.

» Face Technologies was not involved in any way with this system.

5. Reported: Eventually, counting had to be done manually after the system broke down.

About 300 000 ballots were rejected because they were placed in the wrong ballot boxes.

Kenyan leaders said the biometric system was not an answer to all Kenya’s voting problems. But a report by Nairobi-based researchers at the Institute of Security Studies believe the new system could make a difference.

“In spite of the challenges, the system, properly implemented, could help reduce the inefficacies of manual paper registration and eliminate Kenya’s problem of ‘ghost’ voters,” the report reads.

Face Technologies was also involved in a $3 million loss to the National Social Security Fund in Uganda when it was asked to set up a computerised system to deal with social security.

Response: This statement is factually inaccurate:

» Face Technologies was a subcontractor for this project in 2006 and only provided 15% of the total project. The Face Technologies provided component is still in use with the NSSF today.

6. Ugandan MP Elijah Okupa reportedly told Parliament an international auditing firm fingered Face Technologies in a report about the loss over identity cards.

Response: This statement is factually inaccurate:

Face Technologies was not fingered by an international auditing firm in a report about the loss over identity cards in Uganda.

Minty said: “The tender never came to fruition due to internal challenges within various Uganda government ministries. Uganda still has not implemented a national ID project.”

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