‘EC uncomfortable with foreign firms handling biometric system’

The Electoral Commission (EC) has raised concerns over the control of the commission’s biometric system and Data Centre equipment by foreign firms, which is risky to the country’s sovereign rights.

Additionally, the commission’s Information Technology staff were not trained to operate biometric registration devices (BVDs) and often relied on foreign vendors to repair them at huge cost.

According to the EC, last year alone, foreign vendors took colossal amount of $4 million for maintenance works of biometric kits, contract signed by previous management with foreign vendors was unsustainable and drained the nation’s purse. 

Mrs Jean Mensa, the Chairperson of the EC, made the revelation when she led a delegation of commissioners to pay courtesy call on management of Peace FM, a subsidiary of the Despite Group of Companies in Accra.

The visit sought to build partnerships with key stakeholders and support towards implementation of the commission’s activities, especially in the area of information dissemination.

Mrs Mensa was accompanied by her two deputies, Samuel Tettey, in-charge of Operations and Dr Bossman Asare, in-charge of Corporate Services.

The Election Management Body’s (EMB) biometric data is managed by Superlock Technology Limited (STL), an Israeli IT firm, contracted by the previous EC management for maintenance of its software and Data Centre equipment.

Mrs Mensa lamented that, “Our biometric systems have been controlled by foreign vendors, it is the worst thing to happen to a country and risky to her sovereignty, foreign vendors control biometric system, they can reject timetable for organising an election or national exercise and can jeopardise electoral processes. 

“The commission has started auditing of its systems, processes, and cleaned 13,000 of BVDs to ensure judicious use of resources to promote efficiency and effectiveness and entrench multi-party democracy.

“When the current EC management assumed office last year, it met financial and technical proposal of $56 million from its foreign vendors, intended for refurbishment of biometric verification devices and data centre.

“The commission will not prevent any eligible Ghanaian from exercising his or her franchise, it will put systems in place to promote democracy, uphold will and sovereignty of the citizenry,” Mrs Mensa assured.

Mr Tettey said the EC was implementing the Chief Justice’s Committee to clampdown on its loopholes and administrative lapses to ensure more transparent and credible electoral processes.

Dr Bossman Asare lamented huge cost incurred in conducting an election since EC spent $12 dollars per person during elections. –gna.org

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