The pivotal role of technology in Kenya’s general elections
Kenya, a frontline state in Africa has been leading the technological space over the last few years with astounding products like M-pesa, M-shavari, M-kpera, Uchaguzi, and Ushahidi. The recent visit of Jack Ma to Kenya was a testament to the growing influence of the innovations from the East African nation and its strategic position in revolutionizing technology in Africa.
The challenge of the 2007 election led to the creation of the Kriegler Commission. Chiefly among its recommendation was the need for the adoption of technology in future elections in order to avoid manipulation in the electoral process.
The outcome of the Kriegler Commission in 2017 led to the adoption of biometric voter registration, electronic voter identification and a sophisticated results transmission system, which ensures that voting numbers will not be altered before transmission to the tallying centers.
According to IEBC Chairman Wafula, 51 percent of Kenya’s youth are between the ages of 18 and 35, with a population of 9,930,315 and the power to determine who could win the elections. Majority of young people will be voting for the first time and many of them are active actors in Kenya’s tech space.
As election begins, voters are relying on technological innovations like Uchaguzi and Ushahidi to monitor, collate and report any electoral irregularities. The eyes of the world are on the various technologies and the adoption of the results transmission system to guarantee a credible and transparent election.
The death of Chris Msando, the head of ICT at the IEBC, who played a vital role in the new electronic ballot and voter’s registration, was a devastating loss to the commission and Kenyans. He led the technological efforts in the IEBC and many wonder how his death could affect the conduct of the electoral process.
Ultimately, Kenyans and the successful deployment of IEBC’s innovations will determine the success of the 2017 election. Here’s hoping the success of these efforts would lead to a replication across Africa in order to strengthen electoral processes on the continent.
The views expressed in this post are of the author’s and in no way reflect those of The Election Network.