By Fatu Ogwuche
Elections in Africa have seen remarkable improvements since the 2000s. However, the democratic process of electing leaders into office which is now a norm in many parts of the continent is not without its own challenges, the most obvious being the deep rooted distrust in the system and processes. Traditional systems of assuring electoral integrity are proving to be ineffective and unsustainable in the long run.
Evidently, technology bridges the trust deficit but African governments consider it an expensive and secondary aspect of elections, and deny its usefulness in improving the outcomes of the process.
Technology is usually misconstrued as purely scientific and complex processes in solving issues. “Properly understood, any new and easy way of doing things is technology,” Peter Thiel argues in his book Zero to One.
If electoral commissions and governments across Africa appreciate technology in this context, deploying technology for elections without breaking the bank would be an easier hurdle to scale.
One of several applications of technology is civic engagement. Today, by tracking conversations around elections on social media platforms, election management bodies have been able to understand the needs of voters, one of the early steps toward resolving voter issues.
My experience in the 2016 general elections in Ghana alludes to this. A team of young civil society leaders working with Georgia Tech Institute established a Situation Room to monitor incidents by tracking social media feeds on Election Day. An escalation path was created, linking with the electoral commission and law enforcement agencies, both addressing issues in real time.
African elections are currently encumbered by a lot of processes and bottlenecks that could be addressed by technology if applied effectively. Managing voters’ data is one of such issues, simple technology can be used to capture and manage voter information, reducing the stress of registration and eliminating issues like multiple and ghost registrants who tend to vote and cast doubts over the integrity of results. Adopting technology proves to be cheaper and less cumbersome in the long run.
Ultimately, beyond reducing the cost of elections, technology has a multiplier effect – ensuring that the democratic process is more inclusive. Young people I have met in the course of my work across the continent are becoming increasingly engaged in the democratic process through social media. In particular, Nigerians aligned with the idea of an electronic card reader in the 2015 general elections– a factor that many argue was responsible for the increased youth turnout at the polls.
So far, creating technology to pivot communication and sharing channels to a point where both offline and online communities can easily access information is evolving.
The wave of technology giants creating experiences around elections for millions of users has become quite a game changer. Facebook takes the lead in this space with tools like the “I Voted” button, which our team deployed for Nigeria’s elections. Ghana’s real-time results analysis on Facebook was a significant step in projecting real-time results. Scaling up these efforts will reduce the unnecessary legal processes that often spring up as a result of challengeable results.
Another of such efforts to watch is The Election Network, a platform that aspires to deliver creative data-driven journalism using open source and proprietary tech tools to provide insights into elections.
Innovation and technology
Creating technology in collaboration with lawmakers responsible for passing enabling laws for elections are essential. Complexities over the role of technology in future elections must be disambiguated.
The current level of adoption of the various technology options fall short of the degree of radical transformation required to improve elections in Africa.
Building the future of African elections will require creating experiences that involve electoral commissions and organisations across the continent.
Technological tools that can provide accessible, efficient and secure electoral processes will shape the future of Africa’s elections over the next few years.
The inherent challenges of the continent nonetheless, for Africa to build trust in its electoral process, it has to leapfrog with innovation. Opportunities abound for the development of groundbreaking tools that will fix the elections challenge in Africa.
Here’s to Innovation!
Fatu Ogwuche is an international elections technology expert, and the Creator of The Election Network. A fellow of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Fatu has worked on several elections on the continent including Gambia, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana. Fatu worked with Ushahidi to map issues around the 2016 elections in the United States. She is currently a long-term observer in the Kenyan Elections with the Carter Center.
As an editorial policy, Breaking Times neither oppose nor endorse any opinion and contribution expressed by our writers and contributors. Contributions are strictly that of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Breaking Times.
Our platform is for you. Want to submit an Op-Ed? If yes, kindly send your article and short biography to [email protected]
Latest Nigeria News
- Showcase Synonyms – 20 Words That Can Be Used Instead
- Synonyms And Antonyms Of Spirit You Can Use Anytime
- Darwin’s Theory Ban: Turkey Disagrees With Man’s Evolution From Apes
- 4 Reasons FIFA Is Finding It Hard To Get Sponsors For The 2018 World Cup
- Nike To Release A New Performance Hijab For Muslim Female Athletes
- African Widowhood: Remembering The Plight Of Widows In Our Society
- The South African Human Lamb Story And Bestiality Concerns In Africa
- Meet The Four Beautiful Women That Won Beyonce’s ‘Formation’ Scholarship Program
- Kelechi Iheanacho: Chronicles Of The Manchester City Star
- Queens Of Africa: The Women Who Have Shaped Africa As Illustrated By Onyinye Iwu
- Dangling Children: 3 Times Parents Sent Wrong Signals To The World
- Grenfell Tower: Top 10 Lessons To Learn From The London Fire
- Jair Bolsonaro: Five Ways This Brazil’s Presidential Candidate Is Like Donald Trump
- Why You Should Trade On Tonaton And How To Sign Up For Free
- Bamako Resort Attack: Why Foreigners Are Constant Targets In Mali
- Vehicle-Ramming Attacks: Three Ways Terrorism Has Changed In Recent Times
- Beyonce’s Twins And Five Times The Superstar Was Nigerian Culture Goals
- Ethiopia: Archaeologists Have Just Discovered An Ancient Islamic City[Photos]
- 7 Important Things Your Dad May Need To Hear This Fathers Day
- 5 Things To Not Do On Fathers Day
- Egypt: Parents Who Give Their Children Western Names Could Face A Jail Term
- Abu Dhabi: Mosque Gets Renamed After Mary, The Mother Of Jesus
- Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi: Russia May Have Killed ISIS Boss
- Femi Aribisala: The Igbo Tribe Have Been A Great Credit To Nigeria
- Natasha Elcock: London Tower Inferno Survivor Shares Miraculous Escape
- Gift Ideas For Your Father Ahead Of Fathers Day
- China’s World Cup Ambitions: FIFA President Gianni Infantino Meets President Xi
- Man Mistaken For Former Ivory Coast President Beaten In France
- Ramadan: Tunisians Demand Freedom To Break Fast
- World Blood Donor Day: 5 Reasons To Donate Blood Anyday
- White-owned Ranches In Kenya To Be Dismantled If Raila Odinga Wins In August
- Middle East Crisis: Somalia Shuns Saudi’s $80M Gift With Strings Attached
- A KFC Sandwich Is Going To The Edge Of Space
- How To Get The Beyonce No Makeup Look- Top 10 Tips
- Six People Dead In Massive Fire In London Residential Area
- Usain Bolt’s Emotional Jamaica Farewell: Four Things We Love About Him
- Africa’s Tallest Building Is Coming Soon To Nairobi
- Highest Paid Entertainers In The World- Forbes 2017 Ranking
- Thieves On The Chest
- Black Face complains: ''2face owes me money, and he won't pay back''