Abidjan, 15th July-2nd August 2019Number of visits: 431
The annual CODESRIA Democratic Governance Institute is this year holding in Abidjan, Cote d’ivoire on the theme, “Digital Technologies and Election Management in Africa’s Democratisation Processes”. The choice of the theme is meant to give academics and policymakers involved in academic research and management of elections and the democratization process in the continent a chance to reflect on the broad questions regarding the implications the increased adoption of digital technologies in the conduct and management of elections has on the quality of election process and outcomes, and ultimately the quality of the democratic process itself. The choice of the theme is also informed by current trends on the continent with respect to the conduct and management of elections as a critical component of democratic evolution. Recourse to digital technologies in the continent is presented by key players as critical to enhancing the credibility and quality of the process, enable results that are acceptable to all and contribute to enhancing democratic accountability compared to what used to obtain in the era of manual electoral management processes. However, in a number of the countries where some aspects of digital processes have been applied (registration, voter verification, voting and transmission of results), the results of the elections have not been acceptable to all parties and concerns of increased digital manipulation of electoral outcomes have been raised. Some aspects of digital technologies, such as use of social media, have also been implicated as being deployed by the contesting parties in ways that undermine deepening of democratic values. Beyond the ways in which the technologies are deployed, most of the countries that have used the technologies have had to procure them from outside the continent at astronomical costs. The capacity and skills to deploy and use some aspects of the technologies have also been retained with the vendors, thus limiting local users’ access to verify fully the electoral process and outcomes. Hence, besides questions of the contribution of the technologies to realizing a quality democratic process and outcome, they raise related issues of cost, data protection and data sovereignty. These are the issues the participants at the institute will be engaged to examining.
Prof Obinna Okechukwu Ibeanu, a professor of political science at the university of Nigeria, Nsuka and a National Electoral Commissioner with the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria, INEC, is the Director of the Institute.