Techno Brain Global FZE – a company that was awarded a US$60.8 million (about K50 billion) by the Malawi government deal for the supply of 800 000 electronic passports and had its contract terminated last month – has strongly refuted any allegations of wrongdoing saying they are professionals and “committed to good corporate governance.”
Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda last month said the cancellation of the multi-billion-kwacha contract was in accordance with Section 46 (C) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act 2017.
Malawi Passport by Techno Brain
“We must always do the right thing, no matter what it takes. As a country we have a duty to ensure that we safeguard public funds from plunder,” Nyirenda said, hinting that there could have been malpractices as regards the award of the contract.
But in a written response to Nyasa Times, Techno Brain said it has noted several stories circulating that include misinformation and unfounded allegations in relation to the matter, as well as Techno Brain as a company more broadly, which they strongly dispute “and, regretfully, have required that the company takes legal action.
“The contract between the Government of Malawi and Techno Brain was the product of a competitive bidding process that followed all the relevant procurement regulations. We strongly dispute any claims that Techno Brain has breached the contract or that it favours the company at the expense of Malawians.”
According to Techno Brain, the cost of the contract reflects the quality of the offering being delivered, which includes high-end security features and conforms with international standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Reads the statement: “It is also important to note that the contract is not solely for the delivery of e-passports, but also for a comprehensive upgrade to the country’s entire passport issuance system that transitions the country to a digital platform. The project encompasses everything from training and capacity building for over 125 Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services (DICS) officers to the digitization of over one million records and rollout to 19 embassies globally.
“The full scope includes setting up a data centre, Disaster Recovery Center, and PKI infrastructure; the design and origination of e-Passport booklets and consumables; the supply of e-Passport personalization equipment; connecting all regional Immigration offices on a secure network; enrolment terminal equipment; the supply of software licenses; project implementation services; and the training and capacity building of DICS officers.
“In addition to the core e-Passport Issuance System, it also includes integration with the systems of other Government departments; the rollout of the system to 19 Malawian embassies; the supply of trucks for DICS; the digitization of over a million manual records; the setting up of security systems and forensic labs; and other related services.”
Techno Brain maintains that the completion of this contract would be a win-win for the country, delivering both direct and indirect benefits for citizens and the Malawian economy.
“Techno Brain has a strong track record of operating in Malawi and employs several local staff. We pride ourselves on our commitment to our employees and the emphasis we place on knowledge transfer when working with our clients to design and implement world class digital platforms,” the statement says.
The company, which touts itself as a global leader in next-generation digital services and consulting, it’s World Bank debarment relating to one of their projects in Liberia in 2008 was investigated and dealt with, and that it has nothing to do with the Malawi contract.
“We immediately investigated the matter involving the isolated incident and are cooperating fully with the World Bank to take remedial actions, including investing heavily to put in place a comprehensive Integrity Compliance Program that guards the company against a repeat of such violations.
“Techno Brain Global and its affiliates (except Techno Brain Kenya Ltd.) have been allowed to resume participation in World Bank financed projects since 8 August 2021.We are confident that the comprehensive actions being taken since the incident position the company for continued future success.
“We wish to make clear that there is no connection between the incident in Liberia and our operations in Malawi. Attempts to link the two are incorrect, misleading and damaging to the reputation of the company,” adds the statement.
Prior to the termination of the contract, Nyirenda and Minister of Information Gospel Kazako held a joint press briefing where described it as “a bad deal” and promised to review it.
Kazako said the company quoted passport prices at expensive prices and the Tonse Alliance which came into power 2020 was failing to fulfil its campaign promise of reducing the passport fees to K14,000 due to the contract.
“When you look at the money used to produce a passport and the quoted prices, you would see that there was abuse. The three-and-a-half-year contract was not supposed to be signed.
“We are also failing to reduce passport prices because the current prices are connected to the contract that was signed.
“So, in the interest of Malawians and using relevant laws we will review the contract,” said Kazako.
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