Kenya is feeling the strain of funding possibly 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.
So demanding are the competing needs that the Treasury says it will be forced to cut spending in critical sectors and divert resources from others, with infrastructure projects that the government is touting in its re-election bid the most likely to be sacrificed.
Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge said higher salary demands by striking nurses and lecturers, security interventions in Somalia and preparations for the General Election posed a risk to public sector operations in the current financial year.
“[The] General Election could create uncertainty that would weaken both foreign and local investor confidence and slow down projected growth of the economy.
"Increased fear of insecurity in various parts of the country calls for additional expenditure,” said Dr Thugge in a Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Report released last week.
The report shows that up to KSh49.9 billion ($499 million) has been allocated for the election, with KSh5.3 billion ($53 million) going to election-related security operations such as policing 23 counties that the intelligence service has identified as potential hotspots for election violence.
The bulk of the money — Ksh42.9 billion ($429 million) — will go to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), with the rest being distributed to the Judiciary, the National Intelligence Service and the Registrar of Political Parties.
“The budgetary allocation for the 2017 general elections is Ksh49.9 billion ($499 million) and is composed of direct and indirect election related expenses.
"Direct election expenses has an allocation of Ksh33.3 billion ($333 million) while indirect expenses are allocated Ksh16.6 billion ($166 million),” reads the report.
The allocations, at $25.4 for each of the registered 19.6 million voters, place the Kenya election at the apex of spending on elections in the world, behind only Papua New Guinea ($63), according to data collated from multiple sources.
In East Africa, Rwanda is expected to have the most cost-effective election, with the electoral body expected to spend $6.9 million for the 6.8 million voters or $1.05 per voter on average.
That will be an improvement over the $1.71 per voter spent in 2010.
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.
The cost of the election in Uganda last year was $4 per voter compared with $5.16 per voter in Tanzania in 2015.