- The Lawyers Hub
- March 8, 2023
- A Lawyers Hub discussion on the use of Technology in Africa’s elections.
On March 6, 2023, The Lawyers Hub hosted a dynamic public discourse on the utilization of
technology in African elections. The discussion was centered on the experiences of Kenya and
Nigeria, offering a compelling case study for attendees from across the African continent and
beyond, attesting to the importance of the topic. Beginning with a comprehensive overview of the
electoral evolution of African countries since independence; particularly Kenya and Nigeria. The
Lawyers Hub highlighted the significant transformation from traditional analog/manual systems to
modern technology-enabled approaches.
After the highlights, an online poll was done; Majority of the participants trusted the outcome of the
elections conducted using technology with a near split between those who knew where the
technology used in their elections was procured from and those who did not. A minority of the
participants knew how the data they provided during elections is stored with the majority yielding to
the notion that technology supports democracy in Africa. During the poll, participants shared their
opinions on how the use of technology affects elections in their countries. Some argued that
technology has limited the number of people who can vote, while others suggested that block chain
technology could help ensure fair elections. The poll results suggest that while many participants
trust the outcome of elections conducted using technology, they may not fully understand how the
technology works or where it comes from. The poll highlights the need for increased transparency
and education about the use of technology in elections.
The guest speaker, Mr. Solomon Adekara, co-founder of the Digital Lawyers Initiative, which works
on issues at the intersection of technology and human rights, including data protection, privacy and
other digital rights. He gave an overview of the use of technology in African countries' electoral
processes, including Nigeria, Kenya, Namibia, Ghana, and The Gambia. Noting that the use of
technology for these processes has enhanced transparency and reduced electoral inefficiencies,
however its adoption is a response to malpractice during elections.
Mr.Adekara further spoke on how technology may have affected voter turnout in the Nigeria 2023
elections, with recognition that Africa countries in the recent years have had a progressive increase in
voter turnout, acknowledging that it might not be the sole reason for this increase
During the discussion, the guest speaker shed light on data protection regulations and their
implementation during elections in Nigeria, stating that despite the absence of a Data Protection
Act, the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019 serves as a subsidiary regulation. The speaker
highlighted the lack of a consistent and demonstrated commitment to protecting personal data
during elections in Nigeria, despite efforts to comply with data protection principles. The issue of
identifying polling units was also discussed, with the interviewer citing Kenya's IEBC capping the
number of people at a particular polling station. In Nigeria, there have been cases where polling
units have an inadequate number of people or an excessive number of voters, hindering voter
registration and voting. The interviewer questioned Nigeria's readiness to implement technology,
considering issues with connectivity and information access. Nonetheless, the speaker emphasized
the importance of technology for day-to-day activities in Nigeria and emphasized the need for a
demonstrated commitment to data protection principles during elections.
Arnold Ochieng Oginga, co-founder of Ideate Tech Policy Africa, joined the discussion to provide
insights on the role of courts in interpreting the use of technology within African jurisdictions. He
started by discussing the adoption of e-voting in African countries such as Sierra Leone,
emphasizing the lack of infrastructure and digital literacy as the biggest setbacks. He also questioned
the political win in going the internet way, given Africa's historical handling of elections.
Mr.Oginga highlighted the advantages of e-voting, such as cost savings, fraud reduction, increased
accuracy, and speed of result tabulation, however, he noted that e-voting can limit voter
disenfranchisement and improve accessibility for voters with disabilities and remote and overseas
communities. He lauded Kenya's constitution for explicitly recognizing the incorporation of
technology in the voting procedures.
He discussed the challenges African countries face in using technology in elections, such as digital
literacy, inadequate legal frameworks, and capacity in infrastructure and noted that African countries
have largely concentrated on using technology in presidential elections, raising the question of why
there is so much focus on presidential elections.
The participants touched on issues such as digital literacy, credibility, trust, and judicial competence
with one of the speakers noting that while technological advancements have brought benefits such
as mobile banking, there have also been cases of cybercrimes, which raise concerns about the
security of these systems. Another participant highlighted the use of blockchain technology in Sierra
Leone's electoral process as an example of how technology can enhance the credibility and
transparency of elections. However, there were concerns about the competence of those handling
the technology and the need to educate voters on how to use it. The participants noted the
important role that courts play in ensuring transparency, accountability, and fairness in the electoral
The discussion was insightful and informative with the following recommendations being made;
1. There is a need for the African governments to create more regulations to address
misinformation and disinformation during elections.
2. The issue of foreign entities being involved in the storage and management of election data,
raises questions about data protection and transparency. Participants suggested that African
countries should develop their own transparent voting system, and that e-voting could bring
progress and ease to electoral processes in Africa, but there were concerns about the
protection of these systems from hacking and interference. The need for a hybrid system
that combines e-voting, digital literacy, and manual operations was suggested as a solution.
3. Need to educate voters on how to use technology.
4. Participants suggested the need for more specific guidelines and timelines for uploading
election results to avoid ambiguity and provide a clear legal framework.
5. There is a need for strategic targeted training of key stakeholders and involvement of
stakeholders from the onset; inspection of election materials and infrastructure before
elections, and compliance with court ord