Kenyans are waking up to the price they have to pay for democracy. In total, about 70 billion ksh was spent by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission for the 2017 General Elections making Kenya the second most expensive election in the world in the face of falling revenues, public sector wage pressures and emergency spending following a prolonged drought.
It is also more than half of the Sh120 billion that all 47 counties spent on salaries and allowances in the last financial year.
In East Africa, Rwanda had the most cost-effective election, with the electoral body spending $6.9 million for the 6.8 million voters or $1.05 per voter on average. This is an improvement from the $1.71 per voter spent in 2010.
The cost of the election in Uganda last year was $4 per voter compared with $5.16 per voter in Tanzania in 2015. The Sh60 billion used directly by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) meant it spent Sh3,000 on each of the 19 million registered voters to exercise their democratic right.
In contrast, Kenya’s average cost for the August 8 polls reflects an increase of more than half on the 2013 elections and is a quarter more expensive than in 2007. A Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Report showed that up to KSh49.9 billion ($499 million) had been allocated for the election, with an estimate of more than 50 billion actually being used.
The Presidential results were nullified by the Supreme Court leading to a Presidential repeat poll, which the commission requested for an additional 13 billion to cover the elections adequately without glitches. For the repeat poll, the IEBC said the money was required to hire poll officials, procure election materials and technology as well as advertising and transport.
Initially, the government had budgeted for Sh50 billion for the August 8 elections, with Sh5.3 billion set aside for security operations and policing. That the extra money used to finance the repeat election was a blow to the government.
The high cost of the election is partly due to the fact that ballot papers are printed abroad and within strict deadlines.
Kenya’s election is a combination of electronic and manual systems. The IEBC purchased expensive technological Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems (KIEMS) kits which were used in voter identification during the elections.
Nonetheless, come 2022,Kenyans believe the cost will be lower, seeing that the technology and policies to be used are already in place amongst other issues.