PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

IEBC should get satellite phones

In Summary

• The IEBC has warned that 1,100 polling stations may not be able to transmit results because of poor network coverage

• Satellite phones have been used to transmit results electronically in other elections

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has warned that electronic transmission of results from at least 1,100 polling centres may be problematic because of poor network coverage.

In 2017, the Supreme Court nullified the first round of the presidential election partly due to transmission failures. In the last five years, the telcos have dramatically improved network coverage in Kenya but it is not yet enough.

Simultaneously with the IEBC warning, a panel of foreign electoral observers has warned about the risk of poor network coverage and advised the IEBC to work with the Communications Authority to "provide alternatives where gaps exist".

The IEBC says there is now provision for manual transmission of results but this is not the best solution.

South Sudan and other less developed countries have successfully held elections using satellite phones which can access the Internet and transmit data and images. Satellite phones work just like mobile phones but their signal bounces through satellites in space rather than masts on the ground.

It is not too late for the IEBC to contact suppliers to rent 1,100 satellite phones for one month to ensure that all polling centres can transmit their results in real time.

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Jamaica Kincaid
The Antiguan author was born on May 25, 1949

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