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Why Kenyan election is world’s most expensive

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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba


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Elections in Kenya are the most expensive in the world thanks to a high voter registration cost, administrative inefficiencies and outright theft of funds.Estimates for the upcoming election presented by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) placing the cost at Sh36 billion translates to a cost per registered voter of Sh2,000 ($25), higher than any other on record.The IEBC, which initially sought Sh41.5 billion, has been pressing its case for the reduced funding all week before the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.Treasury officials have made their case for Sh17.5 billion, terming the IEBC request excessive.A commission formed to look into the conduct of the disputed 2007 elections reported that the Sh19.4 billion the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya spent between the 2005/2006 financial year to the 2007/2008 period was higher than those of “very special cases of post-conflict countries.”The Independent Review Commission, chaired by former South African judge Johan Kriegler, placed the cost of the election per registered voter at $20.4 (or $29 per cast ballot).Low electoral costs stand at between $1 and $3, according to the Kriegler report and are recorded for countries with longer electoral experience like the United States and most Western European countries.Others are Chile Sh103 ($1.2), Costa Rica Sh154 ($ 1.8) and Brazil Sh197 ($2.3) in Latin America and Sh60 ($0.7) in Ghana.While giving the estimates to parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, IEBC chair Issack Hassan appealed to MPs not to scale down their request any further, saying it would hamper the credibility of the next elections.Mr Hassan told the committee that Sh4 billion would go into voter registration while Sh2 billion would be used to buy a poll book to ensure a voter did not vote twice.The commission targets to register 18 million voters out of whom 15 million are expected to turn up on Election Day.