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Tech pundits praise cloud as controversy hovers over Kenya's 2022 election results

Kenya , 18 Aug 2022

Notwithstanding the controversy surrounding Kenya's 2022 election results, techies and tech industry analysts have lauded the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for its use of cloud services.

In what many have described as a surprise move, the IEBC posted results from 46, 229 polling stations on its public portal.

Each polling station generates a 34A form which features the total presidential vote tally. These forms were scanned and immediately posted onto the IEBC portal.

“This action ensured an electioneering process that is transparent,” said cloud engineer and telecommunications analyst Tom Makau. “Simply availing the data online wasn’t enough, the IEBC's use of the cloud and Content Delivery Network (CDN) services ensured uptime of the portal throughout the period.”

Makau said much like blockchain, where a transaction can be recorded and confirmed by several nodes, the objective of using the cloud was to ensure uniformity and accuracy with the vote tallying.

However, one of the major challenges was the inability to use optical character recognition (OCR) technology on handwritten forms. This forced officials to manually tally results and resulted in several local and international media outlets struggling to keep up with the numbers.

Makau explained: “One of the biggest challenges for the public was the manual tabulation and summation of the results from the scanned forms. (The) IEBC could do better next time by ensuring that the handwritten results are OCR readable, this can easily be done by allocating a specific box for each result's numbers and place values.”

He added, “Many people who tried to use OCR technology to automate the results tabulation were getting a 70% success rate in parsing the forms with their OCR scripts. Also, as far-fetched as it sounds, Kenya can easily adopt blockchain in its elections as this will enhance the level of trust and transparency.”

While Deputy President William Ruto was declared the victor, rival Raila Odinga has rejected the results. The situation could be heading to the courts.

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