Ghanaian policy think-tank IMANI Africa has accused Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) of misleading the public regarding the need for the acquire a new biometric voter management system ahead of the 2020 National Elections.
According to IMANI, the EC’s claim that it is cheaper to procure an entirely new system rather than update the existing one is false, and an attempt to pave the way for a ‘corrupt procurement gig.’
In a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, Vice President in Charge of Research for IMANI Bright Simons said that there is conclusive evidence in the “Special Budget Committee on the 2019 Budget Estimate of the Electoral Commission” document that the EC embarked on an effort to replace and refurbish its existing biometric equipment after complaining about it in 2017, and that over $40 million went toward those efforts.
He added that in the previous year, another $40 million was spent on upgrading the same set of equipment.
“So, in 2016 we refresh 7,500 Voter Registration System (VRS) and buy 40,000 Biometric Verification Devices (BVD’s) at the cost of the several millions. In 2018, we buy 2,000 more BVD’s, also for millions of dollars. And now, in 2020 we want to spend US$72 million buying a brand-new system?” said Simons.
Simons went on to say that the ECs claims that the new system will cost $56 million compared to the $74 million needed to maintain and update the existing one are lies.
“Turns out it would cost US$15 million to refresh the 30 percent of the existing system that needs refreshing and that it will cost us US$72 million to replace just the hardware plus more for software,” he said.
“Add this to the cost of fresh mass registration, and the total of loss to Ghana of the EC’s actions amount to US$150 million, if one factors in contingency,” he added.
The announcement by the EC of its intentions to acquire a new BVMS and compile a new voter register has received the support of 13 political parties, with the Inter-Party Resistance Against the New Voters Register (IPRAN) — which includes the National Democratic Congress (NDC) — leading the charge against the endeavours of the EC.