Kenya Tech Status and The Lessons Learned From The Election Process

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Time to go back to work after that long protracted Political Process. The greatest thing about is that there was no time when people felt like the country is going to collapse again. When police issued warning against the demonstrators, many people were simply asking what they know that the public don’t. Yes there were reports of rioting in Kisumu but reliable sources in Kisumu confirmed that everything is back to normal after Raila accepted the Supreme Court Ruling.

First thing first, much respect to Raila Odinga for keeping his words and respecting the Supreme Court Ruling. That was simply a ticket to peace in Kenya as Mutahi Nyunyi observed on Twitter yesterday. You don’t need the passage of time to understand what Raila has done for this country, and by being graceful in defeat I bet even his critics with time will come to appreciate who he is. For those abusing him , well, the Freedom of speech which he fought for has allowed them to do that, so let them continue but I hope they would save what they are saying now, and read it in 10 to 20 years times. God bless Raila and we wish him well.

On the same breath I congratulate the President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy Willim Ruto. My main hope is that  they will continue with their quest to be digital and move the country forward. They made Many promises during the campaigns, among them being laptops for the kids, Free WiFi and Building of the mid level Technical Colleges in every county.  As someone whose interest is on ICT in this country I will keep keen eye to see the progress on the above . Sasa ni Wakati wa Kutenda.

Here are some of the lessons learned from the process:

1. Failing to test is planning to fail

I know emotions will blind many people, and the fact that cord petition was thrown out would make many people to just think that everything was ok with iebc. The ruling of the court does not mean iebc was success.  In my view iebc failed and a lot should be done to make it a respectable institution again. Technology was meant to make everything transparent but that did not happen.  The IT system failed and I know some have argued that BVR Kits worked and that only the identification of voters and transmission of the results that failed. When you talk about system, you are talking about the entire process: the input, the process and the output. Yes the data entry part(input) through the BVR kits worked, but then what happened with the processing part (where the votes were being multiplied by 8)? It is also important to note that the identification component failed, the same as the transmission of the results.  In other word iebc spent Ksh.9 billion plus on a system that did not work at all.

How did this happen?  They failed to test the system before the election.  A simple test with like five polling stations starting from the voters’ identification, the results transmission to the tallying would have confirmed some of the problems. They should have also tested all the voters’ identification devices before distributing them to polling stations. Then the money they spent in hiring choirs, should have been used to hire the security experts to protect the system from the hackers. You see we appreciate that we are religious country but among us there many people with bad intentions and God help self help. Just bringing the choir and prayers and hoping that the system would not fail or wouldn’t be hacked was simply stupid.


At this point we should not just sit back and say that the public money was spent well.  I think iebc should start by demanding the refund of the money they paid for those devices. The Digital Government should know better than me on this and I would like to see them working  on the iebc short comings.

Lesson: The fact that we survived this time should not be taken  for granted.

2. Iebc Tech Failure has nothing to do with Nairobi tech status

I have seen many people questioning the status of Nairobi as a leading tech destination in Africa on the wake of the massive failure by iebc on that front. I must say that this is the most misplaced argument. What happened with iebc was human component of the tech failure and not the tech itself. Everything that went wrong happened because the managers did not do their work properly and not because we have bad programmers or computer scientists.  Yes, we are still a technology nation although lacking in the field of individual transparency.  Systems are only as good as the level of honesty of the managers..

Lesson: Always remember GIGO…Garbage In Garbage Out

3. Facebook Hate speech and Propaganda

I have said it before but then I would repeat it here. If you did not know some of your friends well, then Politics have shown you what some of them are.  Some are true tribalists just hiding behind the fake smiles. When I was doing the Mind the Gap  Analysis during the tallying process, many inboxed me, others commented on it and I could tell what each of them were thinking. It is tragedy that we have many young people who are more tribal than what we have known in the Kenyan history.

Still I appreciate the freedom of the speech in Kenya and it should continue. People should continue to express themselves freely the way they have done. The great thing about this, is that you simply know what type of people we have, where the country is in terms of cohesion and  living together. Talking  of which, I think  the Kibunjia’s commission should be disbanded and the money they are using put into some other good use. Very useless.  By the way, I am not saying that based on the fact that they have not arrested anybody or charged someone…no, it is based on the fact that they don’t understand the meaning of National Cohesion. You can not threaten people to love each other; you cannot govern people into loving each other. The commission should device ways to help the communities understand each other. By arresting or threatening a few, what they doing is to make people start questioning whether they are being used to target a few people or even communities. That will never go well for a commission meant to have people live together in harmony. Let the law take its course and if someone break it through hate speech, then let the police and the court take over

Lesson: Politics bring out the worst in Kenyan young minds

4. K24 Twitter Account Goof and Social Media Lessons for Brands

In the heat of the moment people make mistake on social media and mostly as individual you probably get away with it without much ado. But the same cannot be said about a known brand and especially a media house. On Friday after the Supreme Court ended its hearing, K24, a media house associated with President Uhuru Kenyatta was in the receiving end of the #KOT daily dose of outrage when their twitter account tweeted the following

“Supreme Court ends hearing…FINALLY Tomorrow in their judgement they will uphold  the elections – April 9th holiday”

From the look of it, it sounded like they had already known the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling. That was bad at the time but I think they are lucky that the Supreme Court did exactly what they were saying. Not many brands would be that lucky and you have to appreciate the fact that even if they knew what the ruling would be tweeting it was both careless and dangerous. Such should always be left to Jubilee propaganda websites like Daily Post and Jackal News or individuals like Ole Itumbi.  Having said that, this was a case of honest mistake by an individual who manages that account. The likely explanation is that he/she wanted to tweet above on his/her personal account but ended up doing it on K24 account. That is a mistake that anybody who has managed several accounts on the same computer or phone would understand.

The bigger mistake k24 made was on the kind of the explanation they gave, as to what happened. The first explanation through the tweet that followed the goof was that the tweet was not meant for the official k24 account but for an individual account. That was a good enough explanation but somehow they thought that people would not believe them and went for the hacking story.

The hacking story could have been more than good, but coming straight after saying the tweet was meant for another account, made it sound hollow and dishonest. Also It was not possible to regain the control of the hacked account within 2 minutes unless the hacker was from within.

Lesson: As a manager, if you find your brand in such a situation, just apologize and give an honest explanation. It works because some of these things have happened to most people on social media… In other words just be human….

5. Trying Time for the Journalists, both local and Foreign

Kenyans journalists had everything going for them until people started questioning whether they were preaching peace instead of telling Kenyans what is going on across the country. It is true that they recorded many interviews and press conferences that were never aired. It reminded people the days of Moi when KBC used to air only church going messages and blackout all the messages from the opposition. In the last few days Journalists have come out to strongly deny the accusation that they did not do their work properly…

Kenyan journalists defend election coverage

Wrong is wrong

As a watchdog of the society, it is not good when people start doubting their credibility. I read many comments where people were suggesting that in case in future the government goes for their heads as we have seen before, the public will remember what they did during the election period.

Then there ware foreign journalists who rubbed the public in the wrong way before the elections. The problem with foreign journalists were their love for using 2008 Post Election Violence, the as their baseline reference for any story about Kenyan election.  There was also the use of the word machetes on all their stories which made Kenyans feel like they are suggesting that Kenyans are primitive. Kenyans learned a lesson in 2008 and still are ashamed of what happened.  Anybody who was here to only talk about 2008 Violence in all their stories was not going to remain friends with Kenyan public. And so it happened that the public made their mind about the Foreign Journalists and did not want to hear anything from them even if they were right about the iebc and other issues. The Government as usual took advantage of that to even threatened them with deportation.

Lesson: As journalist, you need the public on your side all the time.

What is your opinion on the topic?
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.
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