Polling materials distribution to and from polling stations placed across the country costs the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) 274,477,000 birr, The Reporter learned.
According to the cost breakdown The Reporter accessed, the Board pays transporters that move polling materials to and from 50,000 polling stations across the nation before and after Election Day.
Although not all polling stations in the country held elections on June 21, 2021, the cost breakdown was made for a total of 50,000 polling stations.
Accordingly, the movement of polling materials from the center to constituencies using 5000 vehicles cost 40 million birr. Moving polling materials from constituencies to polling centers cost 50 million birr, a thousand birr for each polling station. Airlifting of polling materials for domestic transportation in Dire Dawa, Kellem Wollega, Gambella, and the Benshangul Gumuz region cost 6.8 million birr.
On the other hand, retrieval of polling materials from constituencies to headquarters in Addis Ababa using 250 vehicles would cost 16.9 million birr. In addition, retrieval from 50,000 polling stations to constituencies costs 35 million birr with 700 birr cost per station.
Ballot paper transportation from South Africa to Addis Ababa in four flights by Ethiopian Airlines cost 29.8 million birr. Each flight from South Africa cost 7,455,000 birr. Ballot papers printed in Dubai were also transported by Ethiopian Airlines at a cost of 95,850,000 birr for six flights. Each flight cost 15,975,000 birr.
The total cost of transportation stands at 274,477,000 birr.
For election preparations last year, the Board received a total of 2.5 billion birr in budget before the polls were postponed by a year because of the global coronavirus pandemic. The Board then requested the House of Peoples’ Representatives for an additional budget of 1.18 billion birr to cover costs incurred due to extensions because of the pandemic. However, this remains unapproved as it was not yet discussed by the House.
In addition to budget from the coffers of the government, the UNDP under its Supporting Elections for Ethiopia’s Democratic Strengthening (SEEDS) project launched in June 2019, provided total support of 40,004,000 USD to the NEBE. This project that stays through 2022 is aimed at, “providing operational support to the NEBE to enhance the conduct of transparent, efficient and inclusive elections; supporting the NEBE to develop capacities to conduct public outreach and external communication activities; and supporting the NEBE and other key stakeholders to identify, manage and respond to electoral violence. The funding for this project came from the governments of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID).
Out of the total cost of the elections incurred by the NEBE, a huge chunk goes to pay for poll workers which totaled 225,000. Printing ballot papers and other election materials take another large slice from the budget.