BY EUGENE OKUMU, 10 JANUARY 2013:
Google Kenya today launched an elections portal for voters, journalists and campaigners to easily track news, trends and information related to the March elections.
The elections' portal, http://www.google.co.ke/elections is a hub of aggregated content from local and international media about the leading presidential candidates and issues raised in political campaigns. Google say that the internet is increasingly playing an important role in transforming the way that citizens participate and engage in the elections across Africa, as seen last year's elections in Senegal and Ghana.
During the launch today at the Stanley Hotel in Nairobi, Google Kenya's country manager Joseph Mucheru said that the hub will enable all interested parties in the election to access information on the process online.
"Information online will be key to how the elections will be. We want to give access to voters, the media and aspirants through online tools," Said Mucheru.
Mucheru added that the tool will aid Kenyans in staying informed on the many changes that have occurred in the political and administrative scene.
The Google Policy and Government Relations Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, Ory Okolloh said that with the numerous constitutional changes including the new boundaries, new elective seats and a new voter registration, the hub will keep Kenyans informed on the elective process.
"We are empowering voters so that they are not simply watching from afar, but are participating in, engaging with and shaping the political process in a democratic way," said Okolloh.
Okolloh also said that Google has partnered with IEBC and programming developers in order to source for information for the hub. Google will achieve this through launching several other initiatives to provide accessible and useful information to help voters have a voice.
She said that the partnership between Google and electoral governing bodies in Senegal and Ghana provided a research platform on which the workings of the Kenyan elections hub are based.
Okolloh also said that Google has provided the IEBC with open source technology to enable confirmation of registration either online or via SMS, mapping of the polling stations and application programming interfaces that allow software programmers to improve on the tools in order to localise the content.
"The Kenyan election will be closely watched both locally and globally and as Kenyans head to voting day, Google will continue to work to keep Kenyans more informed about this critical process," Okolloh said. The hub will be operational until after general elections.