Kenya holds the crown for holding the most expensive election but is it worth it?

It is hard to imagine that another African country will ever dethrone Kenya by holding an election which would cost almost $500 million.

Kenya’s just concluded election was one of the most expensive in the world and the most expensive in African history.

“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),” read the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Report released by the Treasury days to August 8th election.

Add that to Sh10 billion the Cabinet approved on Friday last week for the fresh Presidential election bringing the total cost of elections close to $600 million (Sh59.9 million) and you see why Kenya will maintain the most expensive elections crone for a long long time.

More so that research shows that cost of elections tends to drop with experience, however the opposite is true in Kenya.

In 2013, Kenya spent a total Ksh26 billion ($260 million) for the election, indicating a near doubling of cost in 2017.

At a steep cost of $25.4 per voter of the registered 19.6 million voters, the Kenyan election only came second after Papua New Guinea ($63) in the world, according to data collated from multiple sources.

One can understand why Papua New Guinea's election is expensive, it  is one of the most infrastructure-poor nations on earth, and it's a country with some of the toughest natural geographical conditions on the planet. We're talking mountains, valleys and jungles.

Polling officials often have to fly or even float ballot boxes across unfriendly terrain.

Therefore Kenya's terrain would simply be a walk in the park and not cost half as much.

The typical cost of an election is apparently US$5 per voter.

The high cost of elections in Kenya is due to procurement of election materials at dubious costs as well as infrastructure challenges that complicate election logistics.

Despite holding the most expensive election on the continent, the Kenyan Supreme Court cited several anomalies and irregularities committed by the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) as reason for nullifying the Presidential election.

The 2017 general election also registered one of the highest number of spoilt votes which indicates that there was low voter education leaving one to wonder then what was the steep $25.4 per voter used for? you would expect the Kenyan voter to be one of the most educated in matters election to at least justify the cost.

Is Democracy really supposed to be this expensive?

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