A Colonial-Era Law Sparks Debate in Awarding a Sh2.9 Billion Contract to a 31-Year-Old Investor

  • Kenya Power MD Siror

Kenya Power’s recent decision to award a Sh2.9 billion tender for the supply of smart meters has ignited controversy and brought attention to the role of ‘tenderpreneurs’ in the new administration, as revealed by the Nation Media Group.

The contract was granted to Harley Berry Ltd on September 15, raising eyebrows due to the selection process conducted by the lesser-known Supplies Branch unit of the State Department for Public Works.

Harley Berry Ltd, owned by Mr. Dennis Mbwika, has come under scrutiny for its swift selection in the award of this multibillion-shilling tender.

Questions have emerged regarding the company’s preparedness and connections for such a substantial deal.

While Kenya Power opted to utilize the Supplies Branch for the tender instead of a direct tendering process, it has stirred up debates about transparency and fairness.

The Supplies Branch, established in 1960, was intended to help the state procure goods in bulk and enjoy favorable pricing through economies of scale, primarily for products used by various ministries and agencies.

The selection process by the Supplies Branch is known to be less rigorous compared to the open competitive bidding process required for state-owned companies under public procurement laws.

On September 5, the Supplies Branch shortlisted Harley Berry Ltd. and other firms that could potentially supply electrical products to Kenya Power on short notice until September 2025.

Kenya Power, on September 13, urgently reached out to these shortlisted firms due to a meter shortage that was affecting home and business connections to the national grid.

The subsequent award of the contract to Harley Berry Ltd. on September 15 raised questions about how the company could secure a contract worth Sh2.9 billion with such short notice and whether there was a guarantee of their ability to supply the needed smart meters.

Kenya Power’s CEO, Joseph Siror, declined to comment directly on the Harley-Berry deal, referring to his Christian faith as his guiding principle.

This development also brings to light concerns about the use of the Supplies Branch for government procurement, which has been criticized for the lack of transparency and potentially inflated prices.

The situation at Kenya Power reflects the ongoing controversies in the supply of smart meters, raising questions about the fairness and transparency of the procurement process in the country.

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