Silicon Savannah my Foot and We Cant Even Print Voting Ballot Papers in Kenya

Written by

50 years after the independence, the so called leading ICT destination in Africa, still can not do tech simple things like  printing voting ballot papers locally. I have looked at those voting papers and I don’t see why they had to be printed in London!  Here is the story on Nation:

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) confirmed on Saturday that the ballot papers were delivered from London on Friday night, but declined to divulge further information on where they are being kept.

“They arrived last night (Friday). They were brought by six Boeing 707 flights which we had hired,” IEBC chief executive James Oswago told the Sunday Nation

Mr Oswago said ballot papers for other contestants such as governors, senators, MPs and women’s representatives would be delivered by next week with the county representative ballot papers due in on February 26.

Before we I throw in the ICT Master Plan and the Silicon Savannah blah blah blah, let us think about the cost of printing all the general elections voting papers in London and hiring six Boeing 707 flights  to deliver the Presidential ballot papers alone. By the way,  I am not an expert on this but I thought that Boeing 707…was being used in 1958 to 1979 . Anyway Iebc will need more Boeing whatever to deliver the other ballot papers.  For practical illustration I am going to use the cost of hiring Boeing 747-400 per hour

1,153,331.05 Cost of hiring one Boeing 747-400  per hour

The flight time between London to Nairobi -9 Hours

1,153,331.05*9 Hours *6 =Ksh.62279876.7

Assuming that the trips of bringing in the ballot papers for each of the six electoral positions, will require six Boeing flights and we are talking about Ksh.373,679,260.2.

For  a country which inspires to create a certain number of local based IT companies within a given period of time, this project alone would have helped us scale one start-up to the top. Take the cost of the contract awarded to British firm Smith & Ouzman Ksh.3 Billion, add Ksh. 373,679,260.2 being used for the transport and you get what I am talking about. I don’t want to hear “no capacity nonsense” …printing the ballot papers in Kenya given that money can be done even by one individual

Remember there is “Do IT in Kenya” campaign which has been going on for sometime. One of the main point of do it in Kenya is “International and local ICT positioning of the Country” . Now a country that can’t do a simple printing of ballot papers….?

During the Presidential debate many candidates talked about the wastage in the Government and this is one practical example . I know there are politics involved in these things but up to when?

Kennedy Kachwanya
Lead Blogger at
Kennedy Kachwanya is a technology blogger interested in mobile phones both smart and dumb, mobile apps, mobile money, social media, startups ecosystem and digital Savannah. New media must not forget the strength of old tech.
Kennedy Kachwanya on sabtwitterKennedy Kachwanya on sabfacebook
Article Categories:



There is no Kenya company with the capacity to do the ballot papers? Ramco printing for example; why spend all this money to do this job in UK while we have resources right here in Kenya where it might even have been done at a lower cost? They could have broken the tender into 3 parts and gotten 3 companies to do the job (I think). This is a indictment of local printers and how they are perceived.


I think it's unfair to hold the aspiration of one government department against the failure of another. What we end up doing is ensuring non of the government departments advances forward since we claim it's futile compared to other agencies. We should reward and encourage progress, not use failure to whip those trying to progress.


Boss this post is not against any department but just looking at the reality. We have a situation where one department of the Government traveling every week, to Singapore and India to learn how they did, ...which was good first time out but not is simply a waste of money. Those trips should be made to failing departments. On the other hand, look at "do it in Kenya campaign", they should first take the campaign to the departments of the Government which do not believe in doing it Kenya. If you are foreigner and you can see one hand of the Government taking business and money outside, while the other arm urging you to do it Kenya will you be convinced? Actually at the end we look like cartoons...wasting money outside and at the same time begging for investments and aid.


If I really didn't misread your article, it would be similar to suggesting that Kenya should have held off Fibre optic cables and stuff like Thika road till we sort out the so called mess. Sadly, progress here is a slow process, we should encourage it to pick up pace. I really doubt the whole government can have a leap of progress at once. We should be encouraging the other agencies to catch up, not pouring water on those that are ahead.


I can see the success of the fiber cables is used to blind people here but still that is not my point here. Nobody is telling the ICT wing of the Government to stop come up with new ideas and plans, what I am saying is that they should start by convincing the other wing of the Government to believe in what they are doing. Charity begins at home. It simply doesn't make sense to me, when one wing of the government is wasting money and taking business outside and the other wing is busy telling people to do it in Kenya. Back to this fiber thing that is being floating around all the time...if I can remember well Seacom landed in Kenya so many months ahead of TEAMS. So either way Kenya was going to get connection through private sector