Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General Ezra Chiloba has revealed that there are 224 polling stations in the country without mobile network coverage.
This comes ten months before the general elections in August 2022, which could force Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to transmit results using satellite mobile phones to the tallying centre.
“The 224 polling centres may be served using alternative connectivity technology such as satellite phones. We are informed that IEBC has about 1,500 satellite phones that can be used to address this final gap,” Mr Chiloba told the senate ICT Committee.
Legally, IEBC is required to transmit results from the polling station electronically, something that it fell short of in the 2017 General Election.
CA is now racing against time to ensure that the 224 polling stations are covered with either 3G or 4G network before August. Currently, 481 polling centres have 2G network coverage, but which will be upgraded to 3G and/or 4G network before elections.
In 2017, the Presidential election was nullified after IEBC failed to transmit results electronically from at least 11,000 polling stations, some of them in Kiambu, Murang’a, and Kisumu.
Chiloba however says that the government has been facing challenges in installing network masts, with residents demanding other facilities other than network coverage.
“You go to a place like Turkana for instance to ensure that they have network but the locals will tell you they need water and not network,” said Mr Chiloba.
IEBC is yet to submit GPS coordinates of 140 polling centres so that they can be covered.
“As CA, we have put on hold some of our activities to ensure that in the next five months, the issue of network coverage is addressed because many stakeholders, including IEBC, have been asking about network coverage in relation to elections,” Mr Chiloba said.