As the date for the compilation of a new voters’ register draws closer, the leadership of the Inter-Party Resistance Against the New Voter Register is insisting that claims that the Electoral Commission’s Biometric Voter Management System (BVMS) is obsolete are false.
The group claims that their checks with the manufacturers of the machine led them to such a conclusion.
Addressing the press on Tuesday, General Secretary of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and leading member of the Inter-Party Resistance Against the New Voter Register, Johnson Asiedu Nketia said the current machines could be upgraded to have the facial recognition component the EC wants to add to the register.
“On 1st January 2020, we sent an email to the manufacturers of the current BVR equipment, seeking information on whether or not the current BVR equipment can be upgraded to include facial recognition. In response to this email dated 2nd January 2020, Mr. Maxwell Bogad of HNB identification delivery indicated as follows; that the current BVRs are not obsolete.”
“Although the computer operating systems and software of the current BVR need to be upgraded, components like the fingerprints and scanners were very robust and fit for use. The enrollment software can easily be upgraded with facial recognition…The cost of upgrading the BVR equipment with new functionalities will be far cheaper than replacing them with new equipment,” he added.
Johnson Asiedu Nketia also said the April 18 date for the registration for a new voters register is not feasible.
“You are now in the process of procurement. You are in March and so between today and 18th April you have to bring samples or prototypes of your equipment and go and do pilot registration, train everybody before you come and start registration. Unless you want to create confusion you will not be in the position to do the registration on the 18th April,” Asiedu Nketia argued.
Parliament has approved about GHS390 million for the EC to procure a new biometric system which has facial recognition technology and also compile a new voters’ register ahead of the 2020 general elections.
Whereas some political parties backed the decision by the EC, others including the National Democratic Congress have resisted the move, claiming the decision is ill-timed and a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Officials of the EC had insisted that the decision to compile a new register was agreed by the various political parties as they did not object to the proposal when it was tabled at Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting on March 27, 2019.
Ghana to save money by compiling register – EC
Data from the Electoral Commission (EC) shows that the country stands to save an amount of GHS173.07 million should a new voters’ register be compiled ahead of the 2020 general elections.
This means that procuring a fresh Biometric Voter Management System (BVMS) is less costly than upgrading the current register as many have called for, the EC claims.
IT consultant to the EC, Dr. Yaw Ofori-Adjei who made this known at a media encounter a few weeks ago said the Commission will incur a cost of approximately GHS107.25 million to furnish the existing data centre but will only need about GHS39.51 million for both the construction and maintenance of a new data centre.
He added that keeping the old biometric system will cost US$74.36 million as compared to the US$56 million needed to acquire a new system which includes Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits and the Biometric Verification Devices (BVD).