Prime News Ghana

Photos : Mahama speaks on elections in Africa at Oxford University

By Justice Kofi Bimpeh
John Mahama
John Mahama

Former President John Drammani Mahama says Africa's democratic and election systems have improved over the years.

Speaking as the special guest at the Distinguished Speaker Seminar at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University, John Mahama said, "Electoral systems have improved since then, with innovations such as vote counting in-situ, biometric registers, verification machines, allowance for observation of elections by party agents, civil society and international observers."

Mahama speaks on Elections Africa at Oxford University

"This has improved the integrity of elections and lessened disputes. But other areas of complication have emerged. The use of IT in results transmission and the possibility of hacking have created new fears about the manipulation of results," Mahama added.

Excerpts from Mahama's presentation below

After leaving office, I have been involved in advocacy on democratic consolidation in Africa. This has gotten me involved in conferences dealing with African democratic and electoral systems.

Africa has come a long way from the era of steel ballot boxes and district counting centres. In past electoral systems, the citizen’s duty was to turn out to vote, the rest of the process from counting to the declaration of results were done out of sight of the electorate.

Mahama speaks on Elections Africa at Oxford University

Electoral systems have improved since then, with innovations such as vote counting in-situ, biometric registers, verification machines, allowance for observation of elections by party agents, civil society and international observers.

This has improved the integrity of elections and lessened disputes. But other areas of complication have emerged. The use of IT in results transmission and the possibility of hacking have created new fears about the manipulation of results.

Examples of this can be found in the recent elections in Ghana, Kenya and Sierra Leone.

During the last Presidential Election in Ghana, the Electoral Commission directed its staff to stop using the electronic result transmission system to communicate results to the tallying centre because the system had been compromised.

The results had to, therefore, be tallied manually, leading to attendant tensions in the delay of the announcement of the final results.

As I speak, I am not aware that the Electoral Commission has carried out any investigation into what compromised their IT system. And even if they have, we the stakeholders, the political parties, have not been briefed on what caused the corruption of the system.

In the interest of transparency, it is important for Ghanaians to understand what happened before we go into another election.

[Excerpts from my presentation at the Distinguished Speaker Seminar at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University, and organised in collaboration with the African Studies Centre and the Oxford Africa Business Alliance]

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