Kenya could host one of the most expensive elections on the continent yet, according to a plan launched by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
But observers are saying a huge budgetary allocation does not guarantee free and fair elections.
On Thursday, the IEBC launched the Election Operation Plan, a document that is supposed to guide the implementation of the Commission’s Strategic Plan ahead of the 2017 elections.
If all tools are put together, it could cost Sh45 billion to achieve, making 2017 the most expensive election not just in Kenya but in East Africa.
But even as the commission launched the plan, which elaborates on better technology for vote-tallying and results relaying, Law Society of Kenya cautioned that the agency must do more to regain public trust.
“I don’t think more financial resources guarantee good elections. IEBC spends more on elections than its peers in Africa and elsewhere, but we need to ask yourselves why they are not doing better than them,” Prof David Kikaya who teaches at United States International University-Africa told the Nation.
“I wouldn’t emphasise on finances, I would emphasise on whether we have the right people in the right places.”
Tanzania National Electoral Commission spent an equivalent of about Sh8 billion to run the elections in which 23 million voters participated.
Nigeria, with 68 million voters spent about Sh46 billion to conduct elections in Africa’s most populous nation. Both elections were given a fair grading on fairness by observers.
South Africa spent about Sh12 billion in 2014 elections which the Independent Electoral Commission said had 18 million voters.
Uganda which is scheduled to hold elections next month announced a budget of Sh12.5 billion in an election that 15 million voters may take part.
In Kenya, the massive budget shows the commission would require Sh30 billion to prepare for the election and an additional Sh15 billion for normal operations.
Only 10 per cent of that budget is expected to come from donors. It is targeting to have 22 million voters on the roll.
Ahead of the 2013, IEBC asked for Sh25 billion but was given Sh17 billion.
With Kenya seeking to emerge from the chaos of 2007 post-election violence, donors who had been supporting ten per cent of the electoral budget unusually raised their additional contribution by giving Sh2.2 billion or 13 per cent.
Law Society of Kenya says the IEBC needs to work on its image to supplement the benefits of more funding.
“Financing does not work in isolation of other factors. You cannot be a good referee just because you are paid well. You need other qualities such as integrity,” LSK Chairman Eric Mutua told the Nation.