The general elections in Kenya are expected to occur on August 9, 2022. It is one of the elections that will be anchored on technology and communications more than ever before. It is a race against time to ensure that on D-day, there shall be seamless communication and transmission of election results.
Despite the fact that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is the body mandated by the Constitution of Kenya to run elections, it cannot work alone without other agencies within and without the government. For a general election to be successful, there is a chain of activities and collaborations within and among various agencies always away from the public eye.
One of the agencies that will play a facilitative role in the upcoming general elections is the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA). As the regulator for the ICT industry in Kenya, the CA is responsible for ensuring reliable communications services in the country, creating a conducive environment for businesses and other important national programs, including the general elections.
In the upcoming general elections, there is no doubt that mobile connectivity will be key in supporting the electoral process, specifically the transmission of the results. The Authority has the responsibility of ensuring the availability and access to a wide range of communication services in various parts of the country.
Through the Universal Service Fund (USF), the CA has implemented a number of projects since the year 2016 geared towards enhancing access to communications services, including mobile network connectivity in unserved and underserved areas across the country.
In the project’s first phase, the Authority connected 78 sub-locations across 15 counties to mobile network services. In the second current second phase which is under implementation, it has targeted 101 sub-locations for mobile network connectivity across 17 Counties. In the third phase, the Authority seeks to connect 68 sub-locations in 13 Counties.
As a result of interventions through the USF and investments by operators, about 96.4 percent of Kenyans now have access to 3G/4G mobile services. The availability of mobile network connectivity across the country is central to enhancing the livelihoods of the citizens as well as supporting other national activities like elections, particularly in the enabling of the transmission of results.
The Authority in its facilitative role ensures that mobile operators contracted by the IEBC to undertake the transmission of results provide quality connectivity for the exercise.
The Authority is also charged with monitoring media content from time to time, to ensure broadcasters align their services to the Programming Code which, among others, provides guidelines for coverage of political activities, including elections.
Additionally, through the National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team Coordination Centre (National KE-CIRT) the Authority has a responsibility of managing the country’s cyber security to ensure online platforms are not misused during the electoral period to spread fear, hatred, incitement to violence, and fake news, among others.
The Authority has continually invested in tools to execute its regulatory mandate. These include the Quality-of-Service Management System (QSMS) which has boosted our capability to measure the quality of voice, data, and SMS services provided to consumers by licensees.
The Authority also has a Spectrum Monitoring and Management System (SMMS) that enables them to monitor, plan and allocate spectrum in an efficient manner.