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Data and Digital Election Campaigning in Kenya

In August 2017, following a widely publicised and discussed election campaign – both off- and online, incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto (collectively referred to as Uhuruto) and their new Jubilee Party appeared to have won the bulk of parliamentary seats as well as the Kenyan presidential election with about 54% of the vote. However, former Prime Minister and opposition leader Raila Odinga and his National Super Alliance (NASA) of parties contested the presidential election results on grounds of irregularities, particularly during electronic results transmission. In an historic judgment, the Supreme Court of Kenya nullified the election, paving the way for a repeat in October 2017. NASA subsequently boycotted the re-run of the election claiming it to be an unfair process. Uhuruto won 97% of the vote with a turnout of under 34%.

In order to understand the role that personal data played in the campaigns during this election, Tactical Tech partnered with Grace Mutung’u, an Open Technology Fund Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center who specialises in freedom online and information controls in East Africa. She is also an associate at the Kenyan ICT Action Network where she carries out ICT and legal policy analysis. Below are some select findings from Grace Mutung’u’s report on the state of personal data in Kenyan election campaigns. They cover the country’s growing digitisation of the public and private sector, some of the political history of data in Kenya, how voter data is acquired and used by various actors and some features of the 2017 digital campaigning season.

Read the overview or access the full report. Head to Our Data Our Selves - Data and Politics for more releases from The Influence Industry - a series looking at the use of data in political campaigning and elections.