Thursday, 10 January 2013
GOOGLE ELECTION HUB FOR KENYA LAUNCHED
With so many constitutional changes including new boundaries, new elective seats, and a new voter registration, it is more important than ever to help keep Kenyans informed about the elective process.
The Internet is playing increasingly an important role in transforming the way that citizens participate and engage in the elections across Africa, as seen last year in Senegal and Ghana. Now it’s Kenya’s turn, and expectations are high both for a peaceful transition and a deepening of democracy under the new constitution.
Voters are already turning to the internet for information: according to Google Zeitgeist, the IEBC (Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission) was the top trending search in Kenya in 2012, and all the major candidates have a strong presence across the various social media outlets.
Google is launching several initiatives to provide Kenyans with accessible and useful information during the upcoming elections, and to help voters have a voice. Google has provided the IEBC with open source technology that is powering their online voter tools, including registration confirmation online and via SMS, mapping the polling stations, and a developer API.
Ory Okolloh, Google Policy and Government Relations Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa said: “We’re empowering voters so that they are not simply watching from afar, but participating in, engaging with and shaping the political process in a democratic way, through platforms like YouTube, Google Maps and Google+”.
In addition to helping drive citizen engagement, Google has trained local journalists, civil society and political parties on digital tools for elections, and partnered with local media organizations to support the use of Google+ Hangouts for interviews with candidates.