Questions On Safaricom’s Ability To Deliver & Why ZTE Officials Were Deported From Kenya

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Two executives of a Chinese telecoms firm, ZTE, battling to retain a multi-billion-shilling tender to supply police with communication and surveillance equipment have been kicked out of the country.

The ZTE officials, Yang Yong alias Thomas and Zou Lingying alias Eileen, directors in charge of government enterprises and marketing respectively, were picked up on Saturday, and held for over 12 hours before being deported around 10pm.

The reason behind their deportation has not been confirmed. Their lawyers, C.N Kihara and Assa Nyakundi, said they were not informed of the deportation and were yet to receive an explanation from the State on the reasons for the action.

This action comes two days after the parliament stopped Safaricom form taking the 12.3 billion tender; the project that has seen the president advertise in national television.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku reportedly signed the deportation orders on Saturday at 6pm and they were taken away aboard a Qatar Airways to China. Lenku has so far not said anything in regards to the deportation.

There have been protracted legal battles between the two Chinese firms, Huawei and ZTE, after Huawei moved to court to contest the decision to award ZTE the tender.

Recently, the Kenya Government awarded Safaricom a tender for Integrated Public Safety Communication and Surveillance System. The new security system will be linked to the National Command Centre that has already been set up.

The agreement with Safaricom also allows Government to deploy around 2,000 CCTV cameras in locations around Nairobi and Mombasa.

The chairman of the committee Asman Kamama said: “We have confirmed that they have awarded the contract, but it has not been signed. That’s why we are saying that the signing has to be suspended forthwith. There’s no signing that is going to be done.”

Last Friday, Safaricom welcomed the parliamentary probe into the contract.

The statement from the Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore stated: “The cutting edge system will run on an independent LTE security communications network using designated International Telecommunications Union standards. It will therefore not run on Safaricom’s commercial network.”

Collymore added: “The management and control of the new system will however be the sole prerogative of the National Police Service.”

Three MPs from the Energy and Communications Committee had also raised questions about the project, arguing that giving Safaricom the national security project could expose the country’s security.

The MPs questions linger over the ability of Safaricom to deliver and whether it would be right to allow them access to such a sensitive national project.

Safaricom is owned by Vodafone PLC, the Kenyan government and a consortium of other shareholders.