Biometric Licence Purchase Roadblock Clears


The process was delayed once more after a complaint filed by a French company




The multi-million birr national biometric drivers’ licensing system purchase, which had been stalled at the pre-qualification phase for a year, is to restart again after a three-month pause. This followed a complaint from an international bidder was filed to the Public Procurement & Property Administration Agency. This is the second complaint that has been received during the pre-qualification process. This time around, in September, it was a French multinational, Safran Morphon, which lodged the complaint . This came after it was dropped out of the bid at the entry level.

Safran’s grounds for complaint were that it was dropped out of the bid despite having submitted its audited reports and balance sheets showing a 420-million-dollar annual turnover, while the requirement was way below at just 10 million dollars.

The Agency dropped the case on the basis of the lack of authentication on Safran’s audit reports, which indicate their annual turnover. The Agency discovered that the Audit report had just been conducted for internal use.

“Safran did not submit an audit report conducted by an external auditor,” an expert from the Agency told Fortune. “The report done for internal consumption has nothing to confirm its legality, such as a stamp or signature.”

A rubber stamp seal on official documents, which is a standing trend in the country, was missing on the documents submitted. The appellants found it unacceptable to be dropped out as a result of this, as the trend is not common in other parts of the world.

“On the basis of these gaps, we have dropped their complaint and allowed the Agency to go forward,” said the same expert.

Other complaints too have all added up to a delay in the purchasing process of over a year.

Aside from Safran, bidders such as Veridos, Muhlbaure High Tech International and Madras Security have appealed to the Authority itself.

Safran, since 2005, has been headquartered in Paris, working in the areas of aircraft and rocket engine manufacture. It later merged with SNECMA, and aerospace and rocket machinery manufacturer, and the security company, SAGEM. It has a track record of supplying over 70 million drivers’ licenses in the US, India, Tunisia and the Netherlands. In Ethiopia, Safran was represented by CBM, a giant in a very small sector known for its exclusive deals of importing Diebold-branded Automatic Teller Machines (ATM).

Among ten international firms who competed in the bid, only Supercom Ltd, an Israeli company, and M2M Group, a firm based in Morocco, passed to the next stage. Later, the Authority also added a further three companies to the list.

The next stage will include Veridos, Muhlbaure, Madras, Supercom Ltd and the M2M Group. They will now all be evaluated on the basis of a financial proposal, as well as a demonstration of their systems.

The project, launched in 2015, was designed to migrate the manual driving licenses, which different bodies issue across the country, to a fully integrated and functional system.

Once the bid has been awarded, local agents will be working on hardware installation in 172 offices across the country, as well as the installation of cables, a regional server and hardware services. The hardware includes finger print scanners, cameras, monitors, servers, workstations, signature scanners and plastic card printers. These will all be integrated with the software installed in the system.

Safran has already requested the interference of the French Embassy in Ethiopia, according to a source close to the company.



By DAWIT ENDESHAW
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER

Published on Nov 29,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 865]


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