Kenya opens hi-tech parliamentary chambers

GOVERNMENT

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Image: By BiztechAfrica
Kenya opens hi-tech parliamentary chambers

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Kenyans will now experience enhanced live coverage of parliamentary proceedings and MPS can vote electronically thanks to refurbished chambers opened on Tuesday by President Mwai Kibaki.

MPs will henceforth vote electronically from the comfort of their seats, since the ultra modern chambers come fitted with electronic voting components.

The House speaker shall control who speaks by a touch of a button instead of shouting names across the chamber.

Kenya House Speaker Kenneth Marende said the new studios have both television and radio equipment and are fitted with state of the art editing facilities to allow editing of parliamentary footage. Also available is a monitoring screen showing the different shots captured by the cameras.

The speaker said the chamber is served with high speed internet connection and MPs can hook up to the network via their laptops, mobile phones or tablets.

To vote, an MP shall only need to insert a card provided to each legislator. Once the card is inserted, three voting options (Yes, No, Abstain) pop up and the MP selects one.

The new chambers that will accommodate up to 350 MPs in line with the new constitution, features 11 robotic cameras mounted on the wall to capture every MP who will be speaking.

All this will be monitored live on TV screens fitted in the chamber and the speaker will also have the benefit to see this from the comfort of his chair which is also fitted with twin screens

The cameras will be controlled from a detached studio few metres away.

Coming in a ‘horse-shoe’ design borrowed from the German Bundestag and the Tanzanian Parliament, the new set up has between 350 and 400 individualized seats for MPs, and 20 mobile seats to cater for any extra numbers.

The entire refurbishment began in April 2010 and is estimated to have cost 920 million shillings.

Marende said a similar refurbishment is to be done at the old chambers in readiness for the senate.



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