It’s now a week after Kenyans went into historic elections to choose their leaders in an elections characterized long queues, manual voting and in some areas voting into the night even when voters were out and ready by 3 am in the morning.
Things didn’t run well as expected the EVID (Electronic Verification Identity devices) all went down and the virtual network assigned for results transmission failed leading to manually identification which was 2007 concept. The tallying had to go manual.
In relation to this, Africa has emerged as the next frontier for Internet startups sprouting in every country and the entry of Rocket Internet signals another level of growth. Many of the founders rush to only to launch the MVP and fail to collect enough feedback from users but instead do what IEBC did ,the commission hurried to test the system with very few users not knowing the level of traffic that will pass across it leading to slow penetration of results and eventually total failure.
Startups need to collect enough feedback and provide reliable backup solutions to cater for surging downloads or traffic. Many successful startups have been victim of backup failure like Pinterest; the site was brought to a halt when Amazon data center was affected by storm. The mock election carried by the commission was not well marketed and attendance was very low , below 1% of registered voters.
The commission relied on the Safaricom VPN after Safaricom warned of possible failure ,as a startup what the consumer wants is what you give to him not what you feel it should be.
The team is very critical, for any growth and technical problems troubleshooting plus execution. The failure of IEBC systems can be blamed on the technical team on poor ability to scale and simulate the system under higher level of traffic. The team also failed to offer option B when option A failed. This calls for pivoting in scenarios success is not on your path.
They opted for option Z which was manual register and all returning officers to report to main tallying center which was very expensive. In my opinion why not tweet the results to IEBC with #tag of the constituency number, as the results were to be made public anyway? Same applies to startups, with limited resources in Africa, lets opt for cheaper options of survival and the team is your backbone and failure to identify when to pivot is the worst mistake you can make, the success of Fab is the best example.
Lastly before your MVP goes to the market let it be able to execute its main objective else the users will be frustrated and will never come back. This happen to IEBC whereby all over a sudden all the EVIDs failed , the voters were very frustrated with many questions lingering in the air till now. I always prefer to attend an event of failures than success stories, you will always learn a lot and IEBC voting was one of them.