By Omar Bah

The Gambia Public Procurement Authority has advised the Independent Electoral Commission to re-tender the controversial bidding process to supply election materials and voter’s cards as well as limit it to the four participating bidders in addition to shortening the bidding period.

However, the IEC is adamant to contract a company called Electoral Service International (ESI) despite GPPA’s refusal to approve the proposal.


ESI was competing with Dermalog, a German company, Ekemp International, a Chinese company and Smart Business Group, a Gambian company.

The GPPA has since warned the commission not to go against its advice to contract the Canadian company which will be ‘illegal’ and a complete disregard of the Procurement Act.

Last month, the Auditor General convened a meeting between the GPPA and the IEC to discuss the contentions regarding the contract.

During the meeting, the GPPA boss was adamant that he was not going to approve the contract if the IEC fails to submit the required information requested by his office.

The GPPA has demanded that the IEC provides them with the credentials of the staff working with the Canadian company among other things. Immediately after the meeting, the IEC submitted the information about ESI company to GPPA for review and final recommendations.

However, after reviewing the document, the GPPA in a letter addressed to the IEC obtained by The Standard, advised the electoral commission to include the ToR as an evaluation criterion, organize a pre-bid conference (preferable in Zoom) before deadline for re-submission and request for prior approvals thereafter.

When contacted on the matter, the IEC chairman Alieu Momarr Njai maintained that the IEC Act protects and empowers the commission to ensure that it is free from control or influence of either the president or the authorities.

“I can confirm to you that we are going ahead with our plans to award the contract to ESI. We are just waiting for government’s go ahead – we cannot go into another bidding process because we don’t even have that time,” Njai said.

However, the GPPA director general Saloum Malang, said the IEC “is not exempted from coming to the GPPA to seek approvals”.

The GPPA argued that the “IEC failed to shed light on the ToR which is an important component of this procurement request. The ToR should not be settled later or during contract negotiation/signature as explained during a recent meeting attended by the National Audit Office, IEC and GPPA. It is our considered view that the ToR is a qualification criterion.”

“The GPPA also observed that of all the four participating bidders, only one bidder complied with this requirement by submitting the qualification and experience of key personnel, which is an important evaluation criterion. However, we realized that IEC only made mention of ESI’s key personnel (Ryan Casson and Alexis Gysel) without any documentary proof,” GPPA stated.

The GPPA said they have also observed the exclusion of key specifications/requirements of the items such as the 250 power supply UPS, PVC cards, database and PVC card printer Ribbon. “IEC has also failed to provide the ranking of bidders according to their responsiveness, subsequently and from the foregoing, it is our considered opinion that IEC has not addressed the issue/anomalies previously raised by GPPA, but only provided an inadequate evaluation matrix. The IEC resubmission only focused on ESI and was completely silent about other participating bidders,” the GPPA stated.

This, GPPA added, defeats the spirit of Section (3) of GPPA (Amendment) Act 2018.

“Hence, the Authority is not provided with sufficient information to enable it to make an informed decision on your procurement request. Therefore, based on the above observations, the Authority is left with no option but to make the above recommendations,” the letter concluded.