BEYOND BORDERS: President Nangolo Mbumba registered as a voter last week. Biometric data for registered Namibian voters is currently hosted abroad. PHOTO: Namibian Presidency
BEYOND BORDERS: President Nangolo Mbumba registered as a voter last week. Biometric data for registered Namibian voters is currently hosted abroad. PHOTO: Namibian Presidency

ECN’s N$185m biometric data in foreign hands

In-house IT division wants storage localised
ECN is reluctant to 'reinvent the wheel', electing to keep the job in the hands of a Hong Kong-headquartered entity for the 12th year running.
Jemima Beukes
The Electoral Commission of Namibia’s (ECN's) biometric general voter registration data has been hosted abroad for the past 12 years by a foreign company headquartered in Hong Kong and operating in South Africa, a situation that has raised security concerns.

The ECN confirmed that a tender to host the data was awarded to the original supplier, Face Technology, now trading as Toppan Gravity, during the 2011/2012 financial year by the then Tender Board of Namibia.

The tender was for the supply, delivery, installation, commissioning, operating and maintaining of software, system software and supporting infrastructure for the mobile voter registration system (MVRS).

ECN electoral and referenda officer Peter Shaama said ECN opted not to reinvent the wheel by acquiring a new service provider.

“Reinventing the wheel through a new supplier would not only have resulted in the customised biometric voter registration system being completely discarded, but it could have also culminated in a situation where the commission would have been compelled to be supplied with equipment, software installation or services not meeting requirements of interchangeability with the existing customised system,” Shaama explained to Namibian Sun.

Exclusive system

He insisted that the system was designed and developed exclusively for the ECN to enable it to manage voter registration processes and maintain a credible voters' register. Shaama also pointed out that this has enabled the ECN to migrate from a manual paper-based voter registration system to a custom-made biometric voter registration system.

He said the system was specifically designed and developed for the management of the ECN voters' register and its "architectural application" remains purposeful for life and cannot be readily found on any market.

Local capacity

During Shaama’s predecessor Theo Mujoro’s time, the ECN IT department suggested that in-house, or at least local, capacity be created to return the database to Namibia.

In a letter seen by Namibian Sun, they suggested investing in training and capacity-building for the ECN team to enable it to develop and maintain the system internally. The department also suggested using open-source software to reduce licensing costs and allow for greater customisation to meet the specific needs of the ECN. They advised collaboration with local tech companies and universities to leverage their expertise and resources.

Secure system

However, Shaama assured that despite the database being hosted abroad, it remains highly secure.

“The voter registration database is not accessible to any unauthorised ECN personnel, more specifically, neither to outside personnel. The voter registration database contains confidential information related to voters, hence, the commission ensures that data security and privacy controls are implemented to ensure the integrity of the voter registration database,” Shaama underlined.

He added that through integration, additional applications were incorporated, including voter verification, nomination of candidates, registration of political parties and organisations and results management, most of which were previously operated manually.

“This project has been planned to be executed over a period of three financial years, [with] a total investment of N$185 681 634.00 to ensure the strengthening of our electoral democracy," he said.

[email protected]

Comments

Namibian Sun 2024-06-25

No comments have been left on this article

Please login to leave a comment

Katima Mulilo: 9° | 26° Rundu: 11° | 26° Eenhana: 13° | 28° Oshakati: 12° | 28° Ruacana: 11° | 28° Tsumeb: 12° | 24° Otjiwarongo: 8° | 22° Omaruru: 11° | 24° Windhoek: 7° | 19° Gobabis: 7° | 20° Henties Bay: 16° | 32° Wind speed: 37km/h, Wind direction: E, Low tide: 11:35, High tide: 05:37, Low Tide: 00:11, High tide: 18:10 Swakopmund: 19° | 25° Wind speed: 40km/h, Wind direction: S, Low tide: 11:33, High tide: 05:35, Low Tide: 00:09, High tide: 18:08 Walvis Bay: 21° | 31° Wind speed: 36km/h, Wind direction: SE, Low tide: 11:33, High tide: 05:34, Low Tide: 00:09, High tide: 18:07 Rehoboth: 6° | 21° Mariental: 9° | 22° Keetmanshoop: 11° | 22° Aranos: 8° | 22° Lüderitz: 21° | 32° Ariamsvlei: 11° | 24° Oranjemund: 13° | 29° Luanda: 21° | 23° Gaborone: 10° | 22° Lubumbashi: 9° | 25° Mbabane: 10° | 18° Maseru: 4° | 17° Antananarivo: 11° | 20° Lilongwe: 14° | 24° Maputo: 16° | 24° Windhoek: 7° | 19° Cape Town: 12° | 18° Durban: 16° | 22° Johannesburg: 9° | 17° Dar es Salaam: 21° | 30° Lusaka: 12° | 23° Harare: 11° | 18° Currency: GBP to NAD 23.05 | EUR to NAD 19.5 | CNY to NAD 2.51 | USD to NAD 18.23 | DZD to NAD 0.13 | AOA to NAD 0.02 | BWP to NAD 1.3 | EGP to NAD 0.37 | KES to NAD 0.14 | NGN to NAD 0.01 | ZMW to NAD 0.7 | ZWL to NAD 0.04 | BRL to NAD 3.34 | RUB to NAD 0.21 | INR to NAD 0.22 | USD to DZD 134.27 | USD to AOA 853.63 | USD to BWP 13.53 | USD to EGP 48.33 | USD to KES 127.98 | USD to NGN 1479.51 | USD to ZAR 18.23 | USD to ZMW 25.65 | USD to ZWL 321 | Stock Exchange: JSE All Share Index Same 0 | Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) Overall Index 1785.89 Up +0.14% | Casablanca Stock Exchange (CSE) MASI 13125.47 Down -0.12% | Egyptian Exchange (EGX) 30 Index 26902.4 Down -0.59% | Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) DCI 9281.23 Same 0 | NSX: MTC 7.75 SAME | Anirep 8.99 SAME | Capricorn Investment group 17.34 SAME | FirstRand Namibia Ltd 49 DOWN 0.50% | Letshego Holdings (Namibia) Ltd 4.1 UP 2.50% | Namibia Asset Management Ltd 0.7 SAME | Namibia Breweries Ltd 31.49 UP 0.03% | Nictus Holdings - Nam 2.22 SAME | Oryx Properties Ltd 12.1 UP 1.70% | Paratus Namibia Holdings 11.99 SAME | SBN Holdings 8.45 SAME | Trustco Group Holdings Ltd 0.48 SAME | B2Gold Corporation 47.34 DOWN 1.50% | Local Index closed 677.62 UP 0.12% | Overall Index closed 1534.6 DOWN 0.05% | Osino Resources Corp 19.47 DOWN 2.41% | Commodities: Gold US$ 2 320.23/OZ DOWN -0.0046 | Copper US$ 4.38/lb DOWN -0.0093 | Zinc US$ 2 881.40/T UP 0.98% | Brent Crude Oil US$ 85.58/BBP DOWN -0.0052 | Platinum US$ 985.96/OZ DOWN -0.0104 Sport results: Weather: Katima Mulilo: 9° | 26° Rundu: 11° | 26° Eenhana: 13° | 28° Oshakati: 12° | 28° Ruacana: 11° | 28° Tsumeb: 12° | 24° Otjiwarongo: 8° | 22° Omaruru: 11° | 24° Windhoek: 7° | 19° Gobabis: 7° | 20° Henties Bay: 16° | 32° Wind speed: 37km/h, Wind direction: E, Low tide: 11:35, High tide: 05:37, Low Tide: 00:11, High tide: 18:10 Swakopmund: 19° | 25° Wind speed: 40km/h, Wind direction: S, Low tide: 11:33, High tide: 05:35, Low Tide: 00:09, High tide: 18:08 Walvis Bay: 21° | 31° Wind speed: 36km/h, Wind direction: SE, Low tide: 11:33, High tide: 05:34, Low Tide: 00:09, High tide: 18:07 Rehoboth: 6° | 21° Mariental: 9° | 22° Keetmanshoop: 11° | 22° Aranos: 8° | 22° Lüderitz: 21° | 32° Ariamsvlei: 11° | 24° Oranjemund: 13° | 29° Luanda: 21° | 23° Gaborone: 10° | 22° Lubumbashi: 9° | 25° Mbabane: 10° | 18° Maseru: 4° | 17° Antananarivo: 11° | 20° Lilongwe: 14° | 24° Maputo: 16° | 24° Windhoek: 7° | 19° Cape Town: 12° | 18° Durban: 16° | 22° Johannesburg: 9° | 17° Dar es Salaam: 21° | 30° Lusaka: 12° | 23° Harare: 11° | 18° Economic Indicators: Currency: GBP to NAD 23.05 | EUR to NAD 19.5 | CNY to NAD 2.51 | USD to NAD 18.23 | DZD to NAD 0.13 | AOA to NAD 0.02 | BWP to NAD 1.3 | EGP to NAD 0.37 | KES to NAD 0.14 | NGN to NAD 0.01 | ZMW to NAD 0.7 | ZWL to NAD 0.04 | BRL to NAD 3.34 | RUB to NAD 0.21 | INR to NAD 0.22 | USD to DZD 134.27 | USD to AOA 853.63 | USD to BWP 13.53 | USD to EGP 48.33 | USD to KES 127.98 | USD to NGN 1479.51 | USD to ZAR 18.23 | USD to ZMW 25.65 | USD to ZWL 321 | Stock Exchange: JSE All Share Index Same 0 | Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) Overall Index 1785.89 Up +0.14% | Casablanca Stock Exchange (CSE) MASI 13125.47 Down -0.12% | Egyptian Exchange (EGX) 30 Index 26902.4 Down -0.59% | Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) DCI 9281.23 Same 0 | NSX: MTC 7.75 SAME | Anirep 8.99 SAME | Capricorn Investment group 17.34 SAME | FirstRand Namibia Ltd 49 DOWN 0.50% | Letshego Holdings (Namibia) Ltd 4.1 UP 2.50% | Namibia Asset Management Ltd 0.7 SAME | Namibia Breweries Ltd 31.49 UP 0.03% | Nictus Holdings - Nam 2.22 SAME | Oryx Properties Ltd 12.1 UP 1.70% | Paratus Namibia Holdings 11.99 SAME | SBN Holdings 8.45 SAME | Trustco Group Holdings Ltd 0.48 SAME | B2Gold Corporation 47.34 DOWN 1.50% | Local Index closed 677.62 UP 0.12% | Overall Index closed 1534.6 DOWN 0.05% | Osino Resources Corp 19.47 DOWN 2.41% | Commodities: Gold US$ 2 320.23/OZ DOWN -0.0046 | Copper US$ 4.38/lb DOWN -0.0093 | Zinc US$ 2 881.40/T UP 0.98% | Brent Crude Oil US$ 85.58/BBP DOWN -0.0052 | Platinum US$ 985.96/OZ DOWN -0.0104