Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Cameroon - Economy - Ministers argue and fights over contract for security Cameras

Cameroon Ministers

Engaged in the fight against terrorism, the Government of Cameroon decided to install a specific and optimal communication system, which will enable them to better manage the flow of communication and also generalize the use of security cameras.

It is for this reason that ZTE Corporation,  a Chinese telecommunication equipment and system service provider operating  in Cameroon was contracted to construct two National Telecommunication Emergency Network Centers in Cameroon.

Reporting on the story, "le Jour newspaper" of Nov 14 says ZTE donated 7 300 000 000 F CFA(Seven Billion, Three Hundred Million Francs) to the Cameroon Government for the construction of two data centers in Bepanda Douala, and Ekounou in Yaounde. But three top government officials seem not to agree on the content and direction of this project.

The paper reports that on June 21st 2016, the Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development (MINEPAT)
Louis Paul Motaze wrote to the Minister of Public Works(MINTP)Nganou Djoumessi, asking him for a technical estimate for the construction of these two structures. 

Approved Even With Errors found

After analyzing the  request , the Minister of Public Works in a letter of 17th August 2016 provided an estimate far below the one ZTE Corporation had earlier given. 

Instead of the  4 378 125 092 F CFA(Four Billion, Three Hundred and Seventy Eight Million, One Hundred and Twenty Five Thousand, Ninety Two Francs) initial proposed by ZTE, the MINTP evaluated the project at 2 545 846 389 F CFA(Two Billion, Five Hundred and Forty Five Million, Eight Hundred and Forty Six Thousand, Three Hundred and Eight Nine Francs) i.e. 1 197 078 506 F CFA(One Billion, One Hundred and Ninety Seven Million, Seventy Eight Thousand,  Five Hundred and Six Francs) for 'Civil Engineering' and 1 348 767 863 F CFA(One Billion, Three Hundred and Forty Eight Million, Seven Hundred and Seventy Six Thousand, Eight Hundred and Sixty Three Francs) for 'Technologies'.

MINTP however noted that the estimation on 'Technologies' have been validated,  prior to a subsequent check, and also owing to the fact that all the equipment will  be coming from China, home country of the contractor ZTE. 
With  this observation clearly outlined, the MINTP still went ahead and approved the kick off of the project.

Minister Minette Libom Li Likeng Kicks Against
Not being the only Ministries involved in this project concerning the security of the country, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications(MINPOSTEL)  stepped in through Minister Minette Libom Li Likeng waving a red flag to put a stop to the project that has so much financial and technical inconsistencies and controversies.
Minister Louis Paul Motaze had earlier written to her, informing her of the kick off of the project.
Reacting administratively in a  letter signed on August 30th 2016,  MINPOSTEL wrote: "I have the honour to remind you that on March 14 2016, you had retroceded to MINPOSTEL, the donation agreement of December 21 2015 between The Republic of Cameroon represented by MINEPAT and ZTE Corporation, for the construction of two turnkey buildings to host the Data Centers of Douala and Yaounde, for the National Emergency Telecommunication Network".
To Minister Libom, the consequences of this retrocession is that 'MINPOSTEL had become the project owner, and were the ones to give the green light for ZTE to kick off the project once the contract has been established'. 

It was a very polite way of telling her fellow colleague that he was interfering alot in what did not have to do with his service. Moreover, she clearly indicated that she was not going to hand over the project in a discharged stage. She recalled an agreement with the Presidency of the Republic( held from the 19th - 22nd of July at the P&T school), where MINEPAT was duly represented  by his Director of Information Systems, in which it was decided that the said project should be reviewed and reconfigured.
According to her, the new requirements had been sent to ZTE, who had 10 days to deposit their offer. The new elements were precised in a letter that Minister Libom addressed to the Secretary General at the Presidency " for the highest information of the Head of State". 

The requirements were for the construction/Rehabilitation of a prefectoral building  to house the network equipment, the rehabilitation of meteorological stations all over the national territory, the implementation of 4G Technology, freely and experimental on some piloting sites as well as the priority installation of 3G.
ZTE replied to MINPOSTEL that the construction of prefectoral buildings and meteorological stations where not part of its domain of activities and that these new requirements while have a huge budgetary impact on the government. Also she did not even mention the installation of that 4G that she rejected without any sound explanation to an eventual second phase. 

To Minister Libom, ZTE's offers did not meet the requirements of the Presidency of the Republic.

Martin Mbarga Nguele Does Not Want It At All
To add strength to her defense, she called another opposing party, the Delegate General of National Security(DGNS) Martin Mbarga Nguele who she said had notified  his reserves regarding  the integration  of the e-police component in the project, because these components were related to his domain of competency, and that negotiations had already gone deep with Huawei(another provider) for the monitoring of the national territory.
On Oct, 6 2015, the DGNS wrote to the MINPOSTEL, indicating that " under high instructions from the Head of State, the DGNS has already into gone deep negotiations with Huawei for the installation of a security camera system all over the national territory, which will offer the defense and security forces  among  other services the e-police".
In the same letter, Mbarga Nguele  outlined  the state of immaturity of this project and suggest it should be re-orientated towards the theme: "Prevention and Management of catastrophe" to avoid additional  expenses for the government who is isolated from this file. 

Minister Louis Paul Motaze did not however let go as well, as he too wrote to Abba Sadou, Minister of  Public Contracts at the beginning of this year requesting him to accelerate the signature of this contract. 

Minister Abba Sadou replied that he was waiting for the updated document from MINPOSTEL

Decided, the MINEPAT  took matters into his hands and asked that MINTP  approves. The MINTP validated the document with the errors, and MINEPAT  took upon himself to launch and kick off activities on the site. 

On Sept. 2, the Project Manager of ZTE Mr. Zhang Xianghu wrote to the MINEPAT, reporting the work progress on the sites, and attached pictures to the letter. 

He said a working platform was needed for the development, and that the surface needed clearing and digging of  the ground, which required the mobilization of  human and material resources. Thus, ZTE went ahead to construct the centers with all its controversies.

A project contested by the owner, MINEPAT who is a beneficiary not willing to co-operate, DGNS technical partner rejecting the project and MINPOSTEL who is claiming a redefinition  and the management of the project is a shame. 

What will ZTE think?

At the end of the day, what happens to the seven Billion Three Hundred Million Francs?. 

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