The Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) paid a courtesy call to Kenya’s elections management body, the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
to discuss the role of technology in the upcoming elections and beyond, and how KICTANet can collaborate with the IEBC in line with its mandate in delivering free, fair and credible elections.
KICTANet is a multistakeholder platform that aims to catalyse ICT reforms through stakeholder engagement, capacity building, research and policy advocacy. This engagement process is part of KICTANet’s strategic pillar that aims to promote the use of technology in public policy processes.
Among the issues that KICTANet relayed to the Commission included concerns on online misinformation and disinformation, the need for the IEBC to use digital technologies to proactively share information on the election, and to communicate to the public in simple messages relevant to the ordinary Kenyan.
KICTANet also requested the Commission to put in place measures to broadcast the tallied results on a real-time basis as it would play a crucial role in enabling the public to verify and understand the tallying process for the common Kenyan. Currently, the IEBC only plans to have on their portal images of Form 34s from the polls.
This decision was made following the Supreme Court judgment on the legality of the text data that the Commission displayed during the last general elections. Other aspects discussed included election observation of the technology use, publication of information on the technology to be used, hosting of election data, privacy and security of the technology to be used, state of preparedness of the Commission, capacity building, and stakeholder engagement.
Commissioner Irene Masit noted that technology was the most misunderstood issue between the IEBC and the public. This gap in understanding could only be closed through robust engagements. KICTANet has continuously engaged with the IEBC and other agencies such as the National Cohesion and Integration Commission in Kenya(NCIC) to support the conduct of credible elections in the country.
During the 2017 elections, KICTANet deployed a team of 25 community volunteers to observe the use of technology in voting and transmission. The network also worked with the NCIC to support its work in tackling online misinformation and hate speech. Earlier in March this year, KICTANet held a roundtable with Meta to discuss the challenges in the use of online platforms, especially on content moderation, privacy and misinformation and disinformation.
The IEBC assured KICTANet that the elections preparation process had taken into account the data protection and privacy provisions as provided for in the law. All personally identifiable information relating to voters was currently stored in IEBC-owned hardware equipment in the country.
“KICTANet is grateful to the IEBC for supporting this engagement. It offers an opportunity for KICTANet to relay issues identified by the ICT stakeholders for the upcoming elections” KICTANet CEO and Convenor Ms. Grace Githaiga.
The ICT Action Network body also offered to support the IEBC through training of officers in cyber hygiene; deploying an elections observer mission to document the deployment and use of ICT during the general election, and demystifying tech issues to the public with regards to this election in an effort to combat disinformation.