Kenya’s parliament goes digital with new chambers

Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki has today officially opened the new refurbished parliament chambers, which has embraced technological advances.

The parliament’s media center hosts fully digitized television and radio studios expected to bring more quality broadcasting signals that goes with the new digital broadcasting trend.

The media chamber has 11 robot controlled cameras, which will eliminate the need to hire numerous cameramen. The speaker of parliament Hon. Kenneth Marende also confirmed that the chambers had high-speed internet connection.

President Kibaki also unveiled the broadcasting unit before proceeding to open the chambers of debate.

“It is my pleasure to official launch the new parliamentary tv studio,” H.E President Mwai Kibaki said as he launched the broadcasting studios. He reiterated that Kenyans will receive good reception on parliamentary proceedings with the new development.

Nicholas Gumbo, MP of Rarieda, said that the chambers have digital radio and TV signals and are capable of producing own programs from the judiciary and other arms of government. It can also be used on matters of national security as well as engage with constituencies from the channels.

Thanks to the digital broadcasting system, Gumbo said, people will be able to follow parliament proceedings through laptops, tabs and smartphones.

He further noted that it is time for parliament to go paperless by adopting touchscreen on all the seats, as this would mean that all parliamentary documents become digitized.

The construction of the new chambers began in April 2010 and was finished in May this year. The chamber, which will host over 350 seats for the members of parliament, cost around KSh950 million shillings (US$11 million).

Some of the new features will include controlled microphone sessions or alert electronic buzzers essential for alerting the speaker of a “contribution.” Electronic voting will also help the MPs to vote on bills within faster than before.

To use any of the electronic systems in the chamber, MPs will have to insert a special card into the device, put in a pin and press microphone button “once” to request time from speaker. To request time on the floor, MPs will have to push the INT, or intervention button.

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