The 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census was a success on many counts. One of the key highlights was that the process was digital, where information was captured on handheld devices and transmitted to a central server almost in real-time. This allowed for the quick analysis of the data, and the results were released in record time.

Furthermore, it also helped to ensure the integrity of data since the previous census data was marred by fraud.

The technological investment involved was significant. It involved the local assembly of the devices used to collect the data and training thousands of enumerators on how to use the gadgets properly. This is a costly investment considering that a census happens every ten years and by the next census, the tablets used would have become obsolete.

While there may be some use for the devices elsewhere, most could end up lying idle for several years.

📷 Android tablets used by enumerators during Kenya's 2019 census. Source: KNBS

Kenya shares census technology with other African countries

How can this process and use of resources be made more sustainable?

It turns out that sharing the equipment with other countries can help achieve that.
In April 2021, Kenya announced that it would share these gadgets with several other African countries. Already, Botswana, South Sudan, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, and Namibia have received 45,000 devices to help them carry out their census.

Instead of letting good technology rot away in storage, sharing it with other countries who need the same is what Kenya is doing.

📊 The first census was conducted in Kenya in 1962. Since then, Kenya has been conducting population census although some have been deemed controversial while in some years results were never released.

Maybe Kenya should consider donating the devices used to conduct elections because five years is a long time to store an electronic device waiting for the next election. Sharing would help make good use of these devices and would help foster more cooperation among African countries.

If planned well, it can also help lower the cost of elections in Kenya, which currently ranks as one of the most expensive elections in the world.

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