VENTURES AFRICA – The Kenya Elections Hub has been launched by Google Kenya to facilitate the dissemination of information related to the country’s upcoming elections.
The Hub operates via an online portal where all members of society, whether in a personal or official capacity, can access information regarding the elections, including news updates, information on candidates and campaigns, and prevalent trends across the country.
There have also been a number of changes to electoral boundaries, seats available, and procedural and regulatory reforms pursuant to the country’s new constitution, which was implemented in 2010; as such the Hub seeks to inform society about the new electoral system.
“We’re empowering voters so that they are not simply watching from afar, but participating in, engaging with and shaping the political process in a democratic way, through platforms like YouTube, Google Maps and Google+,” Ory Okolloh, Google’s policy and government relations manager for Sub-Saharan Africa commented.
Internet based interest concerning the upcoming elections – billed for March 4 – has already been extensive, according to Google. In the company’s Zeitgeist report revealing the most popular search terms in Kenya across 2012, the country’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) topped the list – signalling that members of Kenyan society are increasingly turning to the internet for election-based information.
The Hub’s launch also coincides with the opening of the voter register to the public – the IEBC making the register available for viewing for a two week period. This is to enable registered individuals to verify their details as recorded in the register during the one month long voter registration period which closed on December 18.
Only 14.3 million of Kenya’s 41.6 million population registered to vote in the upcoming elections.
The launch of the Hub is just one of a string of initiatives on the part of Google to assist the country in its election process – having already provided the IEDC with open source technology for the online voter system; and having also provided training to political parties, civil society and the media on the most effective use of online tools to support the elections.