A keen analysis of Kenya’s electoral process in the past and the current climate will inform the belief that Kenya’s 2012 presidential elections may end up being the most heated and dramatic ever witnessed in the history of this country. While no one can predict with certainty what exactly would be the outcome, it is clear as day that technology especially social media will play a pivotal role in driving messages and will be a huge battle ground in the electoral campaign.
The stakes will be high and I predict that the following factors will play a critical role during the campaign:
- The mobile phone specifically sms will be widely used tool of communication, spreading messages and engaging with voters because it is cheaper. Furthermore phones are available in almost every homestead in Kenya.
- Kenyans in diaspora through the blogosphere and their financial muscle will try to influence local voters in voting one way or the other.
- Social Media specifically Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, YouTube, Websites and network forums will be used immensely to forge campaigns. The users of these tools tend to be generally tech-savvy and politically well informed.
- I predict that the main influencers in the blogosphere specifically those active on twitter and blogs will be swayed by the various interested groups to supporting one side or the other of the political divide. Few bloggers will be neutral or remain independent when campaigns go full throttle.
- Media houses and editors will struggle to remain neutral, but the traditional campaign methods such as radio, tv, print media etc will continue to be used and lots of cash will be pumped into these channels.
- Candidates and their supporters will resort to house-to-house campaigns as the usually-sceptical Kenyan voter is now more-aware of what is happening and will be heard to persuade compared to past elections.
- While Kenya’s National Cohesion And Integration Commission has promised to monitor and advice government on what goes on in social media, it is more likely to fail miserably because it lacks the necessary resources to do the job;- technical know-how and capacity to track or even prosecute hate-mongers online. Internet is vast and you can’t monitor or control what people say especially where use of pseudonyms is the way of life.
- While Kenya’s voting patterns tend to be highly influenced by ethnic considerations, this old way of thinking will continue to diminish and count less. The politicians will have to cast their nets wider beyond their regional bases as the new constitution now demands that one must win a quarter of the votes of more than half of the 47 counties to be President.
- I predict that Kenya’s 2012 presidential election may not produce a landslide winner but rather may end up with a run-off as the threshold set in the new constitution is very high for the current candidates to achieve. This will be a first for Kenya.
While the impact and the effectiveness of using Social Media in a Kenyan Presidential Election is hard to measure it is apparently clear that it is one of the best ways to connect with tech-savvy voters due to its viral nature, ease of use and the low cost effect.
What do you think? Leave your comment here, lets engage.
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