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Opinions Tue, 23 Aug 2011

Biometric Voter Registration- A $150-Million Waste?

[Part 1]

Under normal circumstances, all Ghanaians should be excited

at Government’s efforts to provide support to the EC to clean the voter’s

register with biometric technology. The success of the program would however

depend largely on the choice of technology and this should be of concern to all

Ghanaians as there are several examples of failed biometric voter registration

projects in Africa due to poor choice of Technology.

Fortunately, by a diligent consideration of the track records

of the shortlisted companies or technology providers, it should be easy for the

EC to make choices which would limit the risks of failure.

This feature article would seek to examine the track records

of the 7 companies which have been shortlisted by the Electoral Commission and

examine whether the 2012 elections are at risk.

The 7 shortlisted companies are:

1. Smartmatic (A Venezuelan Company fronting from

the Netherlands)

2. STL (A Ghana-based company of fuzzy

middle-eastern origin).

3. Face Technologies (A South African Company)

4. 3M (An American company)

5. Margins Group (A Ghana-based company)

6. Persol (A Ghana-based company)

7. Code Inc (A Canadian company)

The first of this three-part series shall take a closer look

at Smartmatic and STL. The other companies shall be examines in the subsequent

series.

Smartmatic

Smartmatic is a Venezuelan company fronting from the

Netherlands. A basic google search shows that they were contracted to be the

biometric Technology providers for

the Philippines Commission of Elections. Unfortunately the performance of their

systems have been sub par, so the Philippines Electoral Commission is

requesting a refund from them. Only time would tell whether this refund would

be issued. Due to the bungled effort, the Philippines Congress has passed a

bill to postpone the elections from August 8, 2011 to 2013. Imagine the

confusion that would be caused in Ghana if the 2012 elections have to be

postponed due to bungled biometric registration.

STL

Superlock Technologies Limited (STL), is a Ghana-based

company of fuzzy middle-eastern origin. I can find no record of any biometric

voter registration they have implemented. A 2nd December 2010

publication by “The Lead” newspaper however accuses them of cheating the NCA of

millions of dollars in regulatory fees.

Source: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=198641

Part 2 Preview

Coming soon would be part 2 of this series which shall take

a look at;

i) Face Technologies (which undertook a similar project in

Uganda)

ii) 3M which undertook similar projects in Jamaica and

Venezuela.

By

Peter Mensah

Cambridge , UK

Columnist: Mensah, Peter