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General News of Friday, 11 November 2016

Source: Daily Statesman

4 telcos to be inlvoved in e-transmission of results

The Electoral Commission has just awarded contracts for the electronic transmission of collated results to four local mobile telephony companies.

The four are Vodafone, MTN, TiGo and Airtel, with the country divided into four zones to support multi-lots.

Their task is to set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) infrastructure to link the 275 constituency collation centers to the national collation center in Accra, where the collated presidential results from all 29,000 polling stations will be tallied and the winner declared.

The e-transmission of results from the constituency, and not from the polling station, is a recommendation from the Electoral Reforms Committee.

The EC's head office, regional and district offices have their own internal communications network (WAN), consisting of VSAT nodes, which is provided by STL.

However, the tender document for this e-transmission contract made it absolutely clear that the VPN service provider should operate "independent from EC WAN".

According to sources at the Commission the Daily Statesman spoke to, STL was categorical that it wanted nothing to do with results transmission. STL's core mandate is to supply the Biometric Verification Devices used for voter verification on Election Day.

There have been concerns over the integrity of the results transmission infrastructure the EC was seeking to use.

The earlier decision to have results electronically transmitted from polling stations was vigorously resisted by the New Patriotic Party and the Let My Vote Count Alliance.

The decision to limit the transmission from the constituency collation centre and to use the established telecommunications companies in the country should provide some comfort to Ghanaians.

The system is such that the Returning Officer at the national collation center should be able to retrieve a two megabytes file in less than a second.

All 276 CPES are expected to be installed and operational by the end of November for training of technicians to take place. The VPN is scheduled to be commissioned three days before December 7 after internal stress tests have been done by end of November.

Each of the four Telcos is in charge of a zone, as primary provider with another telco serving as back up.

There are 275 constituencies in the country. The 57 constituencies in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions are clustered into one zone.

The 76 in Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions are in one zone. Volta and Eastern Regions are in another zone with their 59 constituency collation centers.

Greater Accra, Western and Central Regions are supposed to be in the last zone, representing 83 constituency collation centers.