Why a scandal bigger than NYS 1, 2 might be cooking at the ICT ministry

ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru.

A peculiar decision by the government to centralise procurement for all Information Communication Technology supplies for all ministries and parastatals, leaving it ICT ministry has not only led to slow service delivery, but also effectively killed hundreds of Small and Medium Enterprises across the country.

This financial year alone, the ICT ministry has been allocated Sh18 billion for development, a sharp increase from the modest sums it used to receive in the previous years. This budget is likely to rise as there will still be a supplementary budget in March.

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This drastic move is similar to others undertaken by Jubilee government which have all ended in financial scandals.

The first was at the National Youth Service (NYS), where the Youth ministry restricted the NYS to procure all goods and services from the ministry headquarters. The move gave birth to Jubilee government’s biggest scandals dubbed NYS 1 and 2 where it is believed, by conservative estimates, about Sh10 billion was swindled from government coffers.

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A similar policy was applied in advertising that saw all government ministries and parastatals have their communication budgets managed by the Government Advertising Agency (GAA), a move that riddled implementation of the policy with corruption.

Currently several former officials of GAA and NYS are facing corruption related charges.

Over the last seven months, the ICT ministry has identified 41 items that need to be supplied across the government and identified 25 companies to undertake this monumental task under what is known as “framework contracting”.

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This means some companies are supplying more than one item, begging the question whether these companies have the capacity to supply the entire government with a fast-moving commodity.

It is these companies that are expected to gobble up the Sh18 billion IT budget supplying everything ranging from desktop computers, laptops, digital cameras, printers and even flash disks.

This move means that ministries and semi-autonomous government organisations will place their orders to these companies. And in line with this requirement, ministries and parastatals have lost their ICT budgets and have to rely on the selected companies for procurement.

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