Press Releases of Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Blantyre, Malawi, May 2009
African Elections Project launched in Malawi
AcrossAfrica, elections are now becoming the de facto means of selectingpolitical leaders; however, there is a dearth of elections informationand knowledge online. As a means of contributing to resolve thisproblem, the African Elections Project was conceived to providecoverage of elections using Information and Communication Technologies(ICTs) across the continent.
After a successful take-off inGhana, Cote d’ lvoire and Guinea, the African Elections Project (AEP)launched its Malawi phase of the project in Blantyre on 6th May2009.The Malawi project has the following key components : Training forsenior editors, journalists and reporters; development anddissemination of an election guide for the media, an SMS/Mobileapplication in election coverage and monitoring; information andknowledge Online Portal (www.africanelections.org/malawi) and Knowledgeproducts for the media and Media Content Monitoring. Through thisproject, mobile phone users in Malawi will be able to access electionnews updates and certified results through a short code service number(2009) provided by Telekoms Network Malawi (TNM) whilst email userswill be able to subscribe to newsfeeds directly from the website.
Atthe launch of this project in Blantyre, the Executive Director of MediaCouncil of Malawi (MCM), Mr. Baldwin Chiyamwaka said “this project is awelcome development since it provides country specific relevantelections information contributed by journalists and ordinary citizens.Also, it integrates SMS as broadcast, monitoring and citizen journalismtool, as mobile phones have become increasingly preferred means ofcommunication in Africa due to their convenience and relatively lowcost of deployment”. He added that Malawi should be proud to be thefirst country in Southern Africa where the African Elections Projecthas been launched this year.
Also present at the launch werekey partners including Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN),National Media Institute for Southern African (NAMISA) and NationalBlack Programming Consortium (NBPC).
In a message, Ms. ThandiMbvundula, the ICT Programme Manager for the Open Society Initiativefor Southern Africa (OSISA) said “We are excited to be part of thisproject and to support its launch within the Southern African region,primarily because of its contributory role in deepening democracy andsupporting the creation of open societies through capacity building forthe media, while at the same time providing a unique online electionsinformation and knowledge platform that will eventually providetransparent access to the electoral processes across the Africancontinent”.
The African Elections Project-Malawi is coordinatedby Ghana based International Institute for ICT Journalism(www.penplusbytes.org) working hand in hand with key partners withfunding from the Open Society Initiative for Southern African (OSISA-www.osisa.org)
Victor Kaonga Project Coordinator (Malawi) www.africanelections.org/malawi