Safaricom in partnership with Sisi ni Amani-Kenya, a community based peace organization earlier today launched SMS based peace program aimed at promoting peace in the run-up to the upcoming general elections. Safaricom will donate 50 million SMses on short code SMS(8762 and USSD *762#
Using the sms platform, community peace ambassadors will send out peace messages targeted at specific incidents at a micro level with the aim of preventing, reducing or stopping election based violence.
Great stuff by Sisi ni Amani Kenya CEO Rachel Brown who had to use family resources to fund the initial stages of the program. Just before Kamkunji by-election, Ms. Brown approached Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) , which allowed her to pilot the program at the Kamkunji by-election. The outcome impressed everyone and IEBC were able to use it on the other subsequent by-elections. Now Sisi ni Amani Kenya, together with Safaricom, IEBC , National Cohesion Integration and Kenya Police Service are ready to deploy the program countrywide.
Speaking during the launch, the representative of IEBC reminded people that Kenyans did register electronically but the actual voting will be manual. Meaning that people will be given ballot papers and pen on which they will put marks on their preferred candidates . After using BVR kits for registration process some people thought that they will also vote electronically, which is not true. The voting will be like it has been done before in Kenya. People should also understand that the winner of the first round in case of a run-off might not necessary be the final winner after the run-off. There are closer examples in Africa. In Liberia and Senegal both the first round winners were defeated on the run-offs.
Police on the other hand are talking tough and promising Kenyans that they are ready to protect the democratic process and to ensure peaceful coexistence of people before, during and after the elections. From the look of things , it is clear that many people hope they are ready and will not be taken by surprise, the way it happened in 2008. According to The Acting Police Spokesperson, Mr. Charles Owino the police force is working with Mobile Network operators to identify those spreading hate speech through SMS.
It is the use of SMS during Post Elections Violence in 2008 that has made Safaricom to take active role in supporting initiatives like this which has the potential of turning Mobile technology into a tool for peace. Safaricom’s Director Of Corporate Affairs Nzioka Waita said
“the 2007-2008 post election woke us all to the potential of our various platforms such as sms, voice and data to polarise this country . Recognising the complexity and historical importance of the upcoming elections, w have decided to support initiatives and like minded Organisations who want to curb the abuse of these mediums as platforms for spreading hatred and fanning violence”
Subscribe to Sisi ni Amani Kenya platform dial *762#. To unsubscribe from the platform dial *762# or Sms STOP to 22762