By Lateef Ibrahim Abuja
Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) from member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the South African Development Community (SADC) will converge on Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nigeria between 9th and 11thApril, for an international conference with the theme: Opportunities and Challenges in the Use of Technology in Election: Lessons from West and Southern Africa.
Participants, according to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, will deliberate on several issues associated with the choice and deployment of ICT in elections, with a view to deepening collaboration among EMBs and strengthening the credibility of electoral processes in the ECOWAS and SADC regions.
The conference, the first of its kind to be held in Nigeria, is being organized by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), in collaboration with the Electoral Commissions Forum of the SADC and with technical support from the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES). The conference is funded by the European Union Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) project, managed by ECES.
Chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of Kenya, Mr. Wafula Chebukati will deliver the conference’s only keynote address onElectoral Trust and Integrity: Is Technology an Enabler or a Barrier, at the opening session, while seven other sessions and separate group discussions, spread evenly across the entire duration of the meeting would follow.
Senior election technology experts from various international organizations are also attending, bringing the participation of EMBs to 35 countries and roughly 100 participants.
Some of the topics slated for discussion in the various sessions include: Use of Technology in Elections: Overview of Recent Trends, Lessons Learnt, Issues and Challenges; Use of Technology in Civil/Voter Registration: Assessments, Opportunities and Matters Arising; Use of Technology in the Conduct of Elections: Voting, Result Collation and Transmission; Use of Technology for Access to Information and Training/Capacity Building and the Future of Electoral Technology among others.
Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and President of ECONEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu will give a Welcome Address, while the Ambassador of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and West Africa, Mr. Ketil Karlsen, President, ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Jean Claude Kassi Brou, and President, European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) Ms. Monica Frassoni will deliver goodwill messages.