Parliament will block a tender awarded to a Chinese firm to distribute the digital broadcast signals in Kenya.
The chairman of the House team on Energy and Communications said the committee would on Thursday summon officials from the Information ministry and the Communications Commission of Kenya to shed light on the issue.
Mr James Rege said the fact that only one company was allowed to proceed to the final stage of the tender evaluation showed that something was “amiss”.
The Karachuonyo MP argued that even if the Chinese firm was the only qualified company, it was imperative that its ownership structure be in line with the declared intentions of the country’s Information and Communication (ICT) policy.
“It is imperative that international tendering rules are also observed,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Public Procurement Appeals Board set aside an appeal by a local group of broadcasters against plans by CCK to award the tender to the Chinese company — the Pan African Network Group.
Mr Rege said the policy required that firms awarded licences to own strategic telecommunications infrastructure must have local shareholding. “Why would they want to put such a vital sector in the hands of foreigners?” he asked.
The local group of broadcasters is made up Nation Media Group and Royal Media Services.
RMS chief executive officer S.K. Macharia said by awarding the Chinese firm the contract, the government was attempting to muzzle the media.
However, Information permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo insisted that the correct procedure was followed in awarding the tender.
He said media companies should now apply for a third licence, which the government would be glad to grant them.