On the 19th September 2021 we held an online panel discussion titled along the lines of the title of this article. This panel discussion being a timely and relevant topic as we prepare for the general elections in 2023 sought to examine where we are at as regards the use of technology in the electoral space and where we should be moving towards. The discussion also questioned whether we were ready in West Africa for the use of advanced technologies like electronic voting machines in our electoral space.
Each of the panelists agree that in Africa we need to start embracing technology holistically in our electoral space, notwithstanding the challenges of electricity and network. The speakers from Nigeria however pointed out that while we are technically ready to embrace elections, we have serious trust issues in Nigeria that would militate against using technology. Ms. Ifeoma also pointed out that there could be an issue of political maturity. Mr. Olu also seconded Ms. Ifeoma’s sentiments and pointed out that we will have to contend with the presence or lack thereof of political will as regards adopting technology. He went on to state that we can use technology to complement the existing framework at the initial stages of introducing advanced technology.
Ms. Juliet pointed out that in Ghana, there was use of USSD platforms which allowed voters to book slots in a queue at their own convenience. She believes Ghana is doing quiet well thus far as regards using technology and that Africa is infact doing better in the use of technology because even in the West, they still use traditional methods of voting in England for instance. Mr. Sherif also pointed out that Ghana is doing well as regards technology in the electoral space thus far.
Mr. Olu pointed out that we need to start being more inclusive in catering for all persons in our society like persons with disabilities by having braille for example, and USSD technology for the persons at the grassroots. Ms. Ifeoma pointed out that INEC has started deploying its officers to the grassroots with tablets to assist in capturing voters at the grassroots without smartphones in Rivers State for example.
As regards diaspora voting, the Ghanaian speakers were of the view that in Ghana they were not ready for diaspora voting because of a several issues like trust and cyber security issues that should ne contended with. The Nigerian speakers however shared the view that in Nigeria we are ready and should start embracing diaspora voting.
All in all, the conversation was very rich and engaging and with the feedback received from the participants and the questions asked at the end of the discourse. All in all, the event had a total of 68 attendees – 27 attendees on Zoom and 41 attendees on the Facebook live stream.
The full recording of the event can be accessed on Facebook here, as well as on our YouTube channel here, and also on Zoom here. The Passcode for the Zoom recording is TWFQ7T=6 and kindly hit the subscribe button on our YouTube channel.
One thought on “Technology and Elections in West Africa – How Technology Can Be Leveraged as a Force for Good in the Electoral Space in Nigeria and Ghana.”