Safaricom gets committee nod for govt security contract
25 July 2014, 18:29
Nairobi - The national security committee has
approved plans for a security and surveillance system, clearing the way for a
project worth KES 14.9 billion ($170 million) to Safaricom, its chief
executive said on Friday.
The parliamentary committee approved the deal on Thursday
after an investigation. It still requires parliament's approval, but the ruling
majority backs the plan, members of parliament said.
"Contracts will now be signed. A lot of preparatory
work had already started," Chief Executive Bob Collymore told Reuters on
Friday, adding it would be worth some KES 14.9 billion including
construction, maintenance and support.
Kenya's largest mobile phone firm will also receive coveted
spectrum as part of the payment, which will allow it to roll out
fourth-generation (4G) broadband internet services, also known as LTE.
Spectrum remains a hard-to-come-by resource for Kenyan
operators and Safaricom has also been experiencing network quality issues due
to lack of adequate spectrum.
The latest deal has sparked a row in recent weeks as critics
complained that it had been awarded without an open bidding process.
Safaricom had also sought extra capacity through its joint
bid with mobile rival Bharti Airtel for the assets of Essar's Yu mobile in
April. Safaricom would have secured Yu's spectrum under the deal but regulators
have not cleared it.
Asman Kamama, chair of the national security committee, said
the committee approved the deal because of the urgent need for the new security
and surveillance system after a series of militant attacks.
"We approved because there is this upsurge of terrorism
in the country to the extent that now we are losing people," he said,
citing last September's attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi and
attacks on the coast in recent months.
"The committee agreed that this deal will actually stem
the upsurge of terrorism and other forms of insecurity in the country," he
The national assembly will debate the report next week and
it is likely to adopt it because the ruling Jubilee coalition backs the deal
and holds a majority in the house.
Under the terms of the security contract, Safaricom will
install and run a communication and surveillance system that is linked to
police stations to help combat crime, initially operating in Nairobi and
Kenya's second city, Mombasa.
Rival bidders ZTE of China and Kenyan firm Tetra Radio could
not be reached for immediate comment.