Kenya: Safaricom has confirmed that Chinese giant telcom Huawei will be providing infrastructure support for the Sh14.9 billion security tender it was awarded last month.
This revelation is likely to deepen the controversy around the multi-billion communications and surveillance tender given that Huawei was disqualified in a similar tender two years ago after it was found to lack the capacity to execute the project.
Wednesday Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore went before Parliament’s Departmental Committee on Administration and National Security to explain the company’s role in the tender.
In his testimony, which was closed to members of the Press, Mr Collymore sought to set the record straight on why the tender was single sourced and awarded in such a short time.
“It is our understanding that the Government chose to invite Safaricom to tender for the project due to the urgency of the security situation at hand and that is probably the most practical solution for the expeditious implementation of the system,” stated Collymore.
He said the entire project would cost Sh14.9 billion over five years; Sh12.7 billion for building the system and a total of Sh2.2 billion for a period of five years and not Sh8 billion as quoted by sections of the Press.
One of the reasons MPs had suspended the tender was that Safaricom did not have the capacity or proven track record to execute a system of this scale. On its part Safaricom said it has the ability to deploy and mobilise resources and materials almost instantaneously.
“In our 14 years of existence we have deployed and continue to support over 3,000 base stations around Kenya which run on 2G and 3G networks,” explained the CEO.
Huawei’s involvement however raises several questions given the company’s standing in a similar tender two years ago.
In 2012, the then Internal Security ministry floated a security tender for the National Police Service.
Asman Kamama, chairman of the committee, admitted that questions regarding the variations on the costing of the two systems remain to be answered and that these would be addressed by the line ministries.
Information Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i had warned against politicisation of the tender.
—Stories by Wilfred Ayaga, Moses Njagih and Frankline Sunday
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