Google will stream live Kenya’s presidential debate series through its video-sharing channel; in an effort to promote online election monitoring.
The firm will next week launch a Kenyan elections channel on YouTube as a platform to follow the latest news and trends on the political scene, and engage with each other.
Google has partnered with Storyful, an Ireland-based social media news agency to select and organise video content related to the forthcoming March 4 poll.
“All our initiatives around the elections are aimed at organising information to make it easy to reach,” said Ms Ory Okolloh, Google policy manager for Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Information drives the decisions we make on a day-to-day basis, and we remain committed to and are keen on sharing as much of it as possible with Kenyans,” said Ms Okolloh.
Kenya’s first-ever presidential debate that will bring together all the eight candidates will be held on February 11 and the second one two weeks later.
The channel brings together all the news, views and grassroots reporting from the Kenyan election trail in one convenient online portal, with playlists capturing some of the most important democratic themes.
“The online space is an increasingly important tool for outreach, engagement and reflection during the political process,” said Markham Nolan, Storyful's managing editor said in a statement.
The dedicated channel to broadcast Kenya’s General Election comes four weeks after Google unveiled an online one-stop shop dubbed Kenya Elections Hub where voters, journalists and politicians can easily track news, trends and information related to the upcoming poll.
The March 4 poll is turning out to be Kenya’s most tech savvy election, as political candidates embrace websites, Twitter handles, Facebook profiles, SMS short codes and YouTube accounts to reach out to the electorate.
Google says the elections will be closely watched given the role played by social media in propagating hate speech that fuelled the 2008 post-election violence.
Kenya becomes the fifth country to have its election tracked through the YouTube channel after similar projects were executed in Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon and Ghana.
The American tech firm has already partnered with Kenya’s electoral agency through its Google Maps facility to allow voters to find their polling centres online. It is also possible for voters to inspect the poll register at IEBC’s website.
The tech developments give Kenyan in the diaspora, who were not allowed to take part in the March poll, to follow keenly developments back home.
There are an estimated 13.5 million internet users in Kenya; mostly through mobile phones as users take to online sources to keep abreast of latest political happenings