We sought to establish the real numbers behind Kenyan electioneering in this blog. It may seem a simple task at the onset, but it gets complex as we dig deeper. What makes it complex is not gathering information on IEBC budget and spending but compiling/estimating data on the spending by candidates in their campaigns. The …
We sought to establish the real numbers behind Kenyan electioneering in this blog. It may seem a simple task at the onset, but it gets complex as we dig deeper. What makes it complex is not gathering information on IEBC budget and spending but compiling/estimating data on the spending by candidates in their campaigns.
The IEBC Perspective
For the just concluded 2022 elections, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had a budget of Ksh. 40.9 billion. To appreciate the significance of this budget, we decided to calculate some simple ratios:
According to a report done by Quartz Africa, Kenya has one of the most expensive election processes. The table below shows the cost per voter in recent elections in the region:
However, it is important to note that the 2017 numbers in Kenya also include the re-run of the presidential elections. The initial general election, including the presidential elections, was conducted in August 2017. However, the Supreme Court annulled the presidential election due to illegalities and anomalies in the election process. The subsequent presidential election was held in late October of the same year at an additional cost to the IEBC.
Additionally, it is worth noting that each country has a different electoral process. For example, Rwanda’s electoral system includes the President, eighty Chamber of Deputies, twenty-six Senators, and local elections where members of sector and district councils are chosen.
Out of these positions, the electorate directly votes for the President, fifty three members of the Chamber of Deputies and locally at the cell level. The rest of the positions are won through appointment or indirect election from respective councils. According to the East African, a total of 538 candidates vied for 80 parliamentary positions in the 2018 elections in Rwanda. In comparison, the total number of parliamentary positions in Kenya (Senator, Women Representative, Member of Parliament) were 384, with 2,831 interested candidates.
The New York Times states that one of the reasons the elections in Kenya are so expensive is due to general mistrust from the electorate. This has forced IEBC to invest heavily in the voting process. The New York Times goes on to report that the ballot papers used in the 2022 elections have more security features than the local currency note, such as invisible ink, watermarks, embossing and microprinting.
But this is not the whole picture
The election period also brings with it massive campaign spending from candidates seeking to fill the various available positions. Aljazeera reports that to curb exorbitant campaign spending, IEBC had proposed to further place a cap on spending by candidates based on the Campaign Finance Act passed in 2013. The Campaign Finance Act was supposed to be first implanted in the 2017 elections but got push back from Parliament. For the 2022 elections, IEBC wanted to amend the Act, which would have placed the limit on campaign spending by the presidential candidates at Ksh. 4.4 billion and a cap on political party budgets at Ksh. 17.7 billion. Parliament rejected the proposal by the IEBC in 2021.
The current limits on campaign spending are as follows:
Actual Estimated Spending
We sought to estimate how much was spent in the campaigns leading up to the August 2022 elections.
We used data from IEBC, Transparency International and our own research to estimate on how much candidates would spend. We broke it down as follows:
2.We then took into account the 80/20 rule to assume that, on average, the minor candidates would spend 20% of the amount a major candidate spends at any position. For the MCA position, we lowered the threshold to 10%. Therefore, the average spending by minor candidates was as follows:
The table below illustrates our calculations:
Our estimated total campaign spending for all elective seats was Ksh 61.7 billion.
The graph below shows the total spending for each elective seat:
As the data above shows, the parliamentary position would have attracted the most campaign spending at 48%. This was followed by the presidential position at 20% of the total spent.
What does this mean?
Based on the above calculations and considering the assumptions made, it would seem that the candidates spend just as much as the IEBC, making the total amount spent in elections a whooping Kes. 102.6 Bln.
The key question is, where does/did this money go? Apart from the IEBC breakdown identified earlier, in our view, some sectors are well primed to benefit from this kind of spending. These include printing, logistics, entertainment, public relations, advertising etc.
Public offices should ideally be sought after to provide service to a country’s citizens. If this statement were true, we would expect that the amount of investment candidates put into getting elected should not significantly outweigh the salaries and benefits candidates would expect from their office. We sought to check if this assumption would hold in the Kenyan elections. For this analysis, we sought to compare the total 5-year salary for each competitive position with the respective spending by a major candidate, as shown below:
Our analysis shows a mixed bag. For the MCA position, the salary and benefits would far outweigh the campaign spend. For the president position, however, the equation tilts significantly. Based on our analysis, the salary and allowances account for just 2% of the campaign spend. We note that our analysis has not factored in several factors, such as prestige, influence, ability to generate business for the candidate or his / her associates, etc.
At InVhestia, we seek to remove the gamble from complex business decisions using numbers. We always insist that an analysis of the numbers should always precede any other analysis. If you want to run for an elective position in 2027, we hope this supports your first-level analysis!