Kenya: online community galvanised to cover elections

Online focused news agency Storyful and Google are coming together to discuss the role YouTube plays as a tool for monitoring elections around the world, as they prepare to launch a Kenyan elections channel on YouTube.
The 2013 elections in Kenya will be the most closely watched in living memory. (image source:

Ory Okolloh, Google policy manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, joined Storyful’s Managing Editor Markham Nolan and selected guests to discuss how YouTube has been used to track elections across Africa, but also in Europe and the United States. The discussion was live streamed online via Google Hangout, with a live audience taking part from Nairobi’s 88MPH startup hub.

Since April 2011, Storyful has powered election landing pages for Google, discovering and curating video content from African elections. Storyful has watched Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon and Ghana through the window of YouTube, and seen each country use amateur video in unique ways to monitor the democratic process.

The 2013 elections in Kenya will be the most closely watched in living memory. With the explosion in social media that has occurred since the last elections in 2007/08, the Kenyan elections can be brought to the world in close to real time via YouTube for the first time ever.

“Access has always been a primary focus for Google and all our initiatives around the elections are aimed at organizing information to make it easy to reach,” explained Okolloh, “Through the launch of the YouTube channel, Kenyans will now be able to follow the latest news and trends on the political scene, and engage with each other. 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.”

Storyful will be working to capture the best online footage from Kenya as the country picks its next leader. By maintaining a dedicated YouTube channel for the Kenya 2013 elections, Storyful hopes to bring 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,” Nolan said. “Platforms such as YouTube will become key to leaders vying for elective positions, as well as voters looking for specific information.”

The YouTube channel will also host the live-streams of Kenya’s presidential debate series and users will be able to monitor and participate in the conversation using the most popular hashtags in the Kenyan twittersphere.

Media, filmmakers, creatives, NGOs, civil society and political parties, who all play a role in producing, distributing and analyzing this information got to interact during the event.

The launch comes after Google Kenya unveiled its elections hub, a portal where voters, journalists and politicians can easily track news, trends information related to the elections. The election projects will help empower and inform citizens in the democratic process.

Staff Writer