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Safeguarding the Digital Space Ahead of Kenya’s 2022 Elections

Kenya is currently one of the most digitally advanced societies in Africa. Digital technologies and social media are widely used by Kenyan citizens and political leaders alike. In electoral contexts, social media has increased civic empowerment and engagement; but it has also increased the number of challenges related to the risk factors identified by the Kofi Annan Commission. These risk factors, combined with a history of election-related violence, make Kenyan elections particularly vulnerable to the weaponisation of social media and the internet.

With the presidential elections less than one year away, concerted action is needed to build the partnerships, strategies, and mechanisms necessary to safeguard Kenya’s electoral integrity in the digital space ahead of the 2022 elections.

The Kofi Annan Foundation and the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD-Kenya), with the support of the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), co-hosted a two-day hybrid workshop with election stakeholders to address the issues facing Kenya ahead of its upcoming elections in 2022 on the 8 and 9 November 2021. The workshop participants agreed that the scope and scale of the problem – as well as the potential solutions – require a collaborative effort by all major stakeholders. The conference report summarizes the key outcomes of the two-days discussions and provides a set of actionable recommendations targeted at specific groups.

See the Conference Report

See the full conference programme

Monday. 8 November 2021

Welcome & Introductory Remarks

10:00 – 10:15 am EAT

  • Corinne Momal-Vanian, Executive Director, Kofi Annan Foundation
  • Frankline Mukwanja, Executive Director, Centre for Multiparty Democracy

Panel 1: Elections in the Digital Age: Emerging opportunities & new threats for Kenya’s 2022 elections

10:15 – 11:15 am EAT / Panel discussion followed by a Q&A

Moderator: James Smart, Nation Media Group

  • Asha Mwilu, Debunk Media
  • Representative, Data, Privacy Commission
  • Irungu Houghton, Amnesty International Kenya

Panel 2: How should social media be regulated to strengthen rather than undermine electoral integrity?

11:30 – 12:30 EAT / Panel discussion followed by a Q&A

Moderator: Janet Mbugua, Inua Dada Foundation

  • Joseph Nzano, Communications Authority of Kenya
  • Ken Ogutu, Researcher on Criminal Justice, Governance & Rule of Law
  • Noordin Haji, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)
  • Wycliffe Mwatu, National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC)

Panel 3: Securing the digital space to promote transparent and fair political competition

14:00 – 15:00 EAT / Panel discussion followed by a Q&A

Moderator: Caroline Gaita, Mzalendo Watch

  • Martha Karua, NARC-Kenya
  • Representative, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC)
  • Bob Waithaka, Office of the Registrar of Political Parties
  • Mule Musau, Election Observation Group (ELOG)

Panel 4: Best practices and lessons learned on countering dis- and misinformation

15:15 – 16:15 EAT / Panel discussion followed by a Q&A

Moderator: Catherine Gicheru, International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ)

  • Lisa Reppell, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
  • Dennis Omondi, National Democratic Institute (NDI)
  • Alphonce Shiundu, Africa Check
  • Roberto Heycher Cardiel, Instituto Nacional Electoral (INE) Mexico

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Learning event: Presentations from tech companies and fact-checking organisations on countering disinformation and strengthening fact-checking (followed by Q&A)

09:30 – 11:00 EAT / (Closed-door)

During this closed-door session, tech companies and fact-checking organisations are invited to present their tools and strategies to counter dis- and misinformation and strengthen fact-checking. The objective of this session is to better understand ongoing efforts in this space, learn from each other’s tools, initiatives and actions, and enhance coordination.

Moderator: Linda Bonyo, Lawyers Hub

  • Ginny Badanes, Microsoft
  • Tom Nvumba-O’Bryan, Meta
  • Alphonce Shiundu, Africa Check
  • Victor Bwire, Media Council of Kenya
  • Kui Kinyanjui, Safaricom PLC

Brainstorming session: Imagining a digital code of conduct for Kenya.

11:15 – 12:30 EAT / (Closed-door)

Building on ongoing locally-driven efforts around codes of conduct for the electoral process, the goal of this session is to brainstorm amongst key stakeholders if and how such efforts could be combined with a digital pledge to address digital threats and secure the online space ahead of the 2022 elections. This session also provides an opportunity to learn from other experiences and share best practices.

Moderator: Frankline Mukwanja, Centre

  • Abshiro Halake, CMD
  • Olaf Böhnke, Alliances of Democracies
  • Representative, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC)
  • Gram Matenga, International IDEA
  • Joshua Changwony, Executive Secretary, The Constitution and Reform Education Consortium (CRECO)

See the report on Kenya’s digital ecosystem