In Summary
  • Safaricom now joins Facebook and Google in the spotlight after a divisive presidential election.
  • Essentially, all three telecom providers were in a position to deliberately trigger manual relaying of results, with its attendant weaknesses.
  • Additionally, it is unlikely that any of the telecom providers may have altered the results in transit, since configurations for results transmission were highly encrypted.

It is interesting that Kenya's opposition politicians have managed to drag an ICT company into the murky waters of politics. 

Safaricom now joins Facebook and Google in the spotlight after a divisive presidential election.

Facebook and Google were, and are, still under investigation by American authorities after Russian hackers were alleged to have used their platforms to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Their algorithms were allegedly tweaked to give favourable output for one candidate over the other. Facebook's ‘News Feed’ was allegedly hacked and used to spread fake news about Hillary Clinton, while the Google search engine was allegedly tweaked to give Donald Trump negative reviews.

In other words, when one did a Google search on both Trump and Clinton, the feedback list for Trump would have more negative coverage relative to that of Clinton.

Of course, whether these allegations were true or false remains a matter of ongoing investigation by US authorities.

Let's move across the Atlantic and into Africa.  The Kenyan presidential election, and its leading telecommunication provider, Safaricom, are caught in similar, yet slightly different, circumstances.

The main difference is that there is no formal investigation going on even though there are serious allegations from the opposition against Safaricom. 

The company is alleged to have aided in electoral malpractice, and the opposition has gone as far as naming Safaricom employees who may have executed the actions alleged. Opposition supporters are now being asked to boycott Safaricom services on these allegations. 

To be fair to Safaricom, none of these allegations have been investigated, proven or substantiated, but that is beside the point.  

TRIGGER MANUAL RELAYING

Considering that the call for a boycott is political, it's likely that a good chunk of Nasa's followers will heed the call – irrespective of whether or not the allegations have been substantiated.

This is because Kenyan politics is largely driven by a tribal, cult-like movement ,as opposed to the rational movements one may encounter in more mature democracies.

My predication is therefore that Safaricom is facing one of its biggest ‘competitive’ threats since inception, though from very unlikely quarters.

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