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Why 224 Polling Stations Might Give Headache To IEBC During Results Transmission

by Yahil Felix

According to Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), a total of 224 polling stations might bring headache since they have no network coverage, a move that might disadvantage transmission of results.

CA Director General Ezra Chiloba yesterday told the senate ICT Committee that if no action is taken between now and August, then the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission will be compelled to use satellite mobile phones to transmit from the areas.

Ezra Chiloba said that CA is making all efforts to ensure that most polling stations and centers are covered with either 3G or 4G network.

Submission of electoral results to IEBC headquarters is by law supposed to be done electronically from the polling stations, and was the min sticking point in the 2017 elections, as this was not proved to have been done in many cases due to lack of reliable internet connectivity.

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The Supreme Court in the 2017 that nullified the presidential elections narrowed down on 11,000 polling stations, some of them in Kiambu, Murang’a, Kisumu, and other places that generally should have good internet network, and with the IEBC said could not transmit their results forms because of lack of connectivity.

Mr. Chiloba has said 481 polling centers that have 2G network coverage will be upgraded to 3G and/ or 4G network before the polls.

Mot of these 224 polling stations are in marginalized areas. Chiloba said that CA is facing challenges such as insecurity and resistance from the communities in the region in ensuring they are covered.

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“You got to Turkana for example to ensure that they have network but the locals will tell you they need water and not network,” Mr. Chiloba told the committee chaired by Baringo Senator Gideon.

He said that due to accessibility challenges, the electoral commission is yet to submit GPS coordinates of 140 polling centers so that they can be covered.

However, Kitui SEnator Enock Wambua asked why the network coverage issue was being addressed late.

“An election cycle is five years in Kenya, why wait until few months before elections to release that some areas don’t have network. Why do I have the feeling that CA is just concerned with the 2022 elections and connecting various parts of the country to network coverage?” he asked.

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Nominated Senator Abshiro Halake told Chiloba to ensure that technology will be an equiliser for all the regions ahead of the 2022 elections.

She also expressed concerns why some regions have no network totally yet some regions are set for an upgrade of 3G to 4G.

In as situational brief on September this year, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati told CA to solve the issue of of 3G internet network, which the commission says only covers 83.6 percent of the country.

However, Mr. Chiloba on Monday told the senators that 3G network coverage now stands at 97 percent of the country.

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