Speaking to HumanIPO on the benefits of the Kenya Elections channel launched earlier this month in the run up to the March 4 elections, Julie Taylor, Head of Communications and Public Affairs for Google Sub-Saharan Africa, said most of the channel’s views came from the diaspora.
“Kenya’s first ever presidential debate was livestreamed on YouTube and received hundreds of thousands of views. 75% of these views came from outside of Kenya, suggesting strong diaspora interest in local politics,” Taylor said.
YouTube believes the exclusively designated channel is playing an important role in providing access to political information, while also provoking discussion amongst voters.
Furthermore, YouTube adds, the channel helps ensure that voters and interested parties abroad - often diaspora Kenyans with an eye on the elections - are able to understand the political issues and information being disseminated.
“Video is a really powerful tool to help people connect with leaders and other voters,” Taylor said.
“In Kenya, we want to make it easy to connect people with the political information that’s most important to them, and make that information useful in understanding political issues. YouTube is just one of the platforms which is useful to Kenyans during the electoral process,” she added.
The Kenya Elections channel has been developed and is administered by Storyful, in partnership with Google, the pair having worked together in a number of environments to collect information and experience on how YouTube can be used as a tool during times of social and political tension.
“Storyful and Google have worked together in several places to highlight how YouTube can be used for sharing important news, for monitoring human rights issues, and in times of humanitarian crisis or natural disaster,” says Taylor.
During the recent Ghanaian elections, YouTube implemented a similar bespoke channel with substantial success. Debates were live-streamed and other information was disseminated via the channel in a bid to support the free and informed election process.
The efforts to inform the voting population in Ghana appears to have been successful, the election having been accepted to have been fair and transparent by international bodies, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).