Al Kags

2022 Elections a win for transparency


And there we have it. The Supreme Court of Kenya has upheld the declaration that William Samoei Ruto is to be the fifth president of the Republic of Kenya, bringing to a close the electioneering process. During the three-month-long official campaign period and in the litigation period following the election, I have been quiet here as my role at the Open Institute requires me to be. We are deliberately and studiously non-partisan in matters of politics. As I mentioned in the last election cycle, it is not easy in an increasingly polarised and controversial Kenya.

Martha Koome presiding over the Supreme Court petition of the 2022 Elections.
Chief Justice Martha Koome presiding over the Supreme Court petition.

In my view, these 2022 elections were a big win for those who have pursued transparency over the past couple of decades. It is hard not to appreciate the use of technology through the KIEMS kits for voter identification and transmitting images of the forms 34A, which were made public through a well-developed portal that facilitated unprecedented citizen engagement in the process. The publishing of forms 34A and forms 34B within hours on the portal made it possible for everyone to participate in the tallying. I think this contributed significantly to maintaining low anxiety levels throughout the elections. 

Ten years ago, when Jay Bhalla and I started advocating for transparency using technology, we had to counter nay-sayers and doubters by building many civic tech tools to demonstrate the value of proactive transparency. Starting from the Kenya Open Data Initiative and many other dashboards and online platforms that shared data and information, we have been part of a community that consistently aimed to show government officials and the country at large the value of being transparent and how technology contributes to ease of access and citizen engagement.

That the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission implemented this platform to publish forms 34A as soon as they were tallied, the country has a strong demonstration of the value of proactive transparency. Even with the issues that may have been there in the process, it cannot be gainsaid that proactive transparency gives many rewards insofar as citizen participation is concerned.

As we congratulate our new president, HE William Samoei Ruto, for his win in the 2022 elections, we hope that he will uphold the principles of transparency and accountability. Most of all, we hope that he will lead the charge for using technology to support citizen engagement.

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