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Kenya: jitters over network coverage in election results relay

Kenya: jitters over network coverage in election results relay

Kenya's electoral body has released a list of over 11,000 polling stations that do not have network coverage by the country's three telecoms companies, a day before citizens head to the polls.

In a statement on Sunday, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said their officers in those polling stations will be required to move to areas where there is signal and use satellite phones.

"In accordance with the provision of the Elections (Technology) Regulations, 2017 the commission wishes to notify the public that out of the 40,833 polling stations 11,155 are out of the 3G or 4G GSM network coverage," the Commission announced.

IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati clarified that the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS) device can transmit over a 2G network.

Kenyans have taken to social media and voiced concern over what some users described as "ill-timed communication" and "a loophole for election rigging".

Kenfish‏ @kenfish Replying to @IEBCKenya
#ReturningOfficer should be accompanied by #partyagents, #observers and #media when searching for network. They move we move #ElectionsKE

Tom Makau‏ @tommakau
The IEBC list of polling stns without Internet in some of the most densely populated areas in KE shows how cooked our penetration stats are

Some comments also trolled the IEBC on why officials have to move to network areas to transmit results, while they have satellite phones which can transmit from anywhere.

Maloba Wandera‏ @MalobaWandera Replying to @IEBCKenya
You said you had Satellite phones... Just in case you don't know what Sat phones do, they don't require 3G or 4G... the PO (presiding officer) doesn't need to move

Chebukati reassured Kenyans on the security features in the KIEMS kit. "Once (KIEMS kit) is locked up with the result, it will retain the result... it cannot change, it will transmit the results automatically if you go to a place where there is network."

According to the Communications Authority's ICT Access Report, approximately 5.6% of the population (or 2.66 million people) do not have network coverage. The study also showed that 78% of the country is covered by 3G.

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