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Opinions of Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Columnist: Amofa, Kennedy K.

Advanced technology: New hope for Africa's democracy

For decades after attaining independence, the aspiration of freedom and self-governance of most African countries including Ghana has suffered the plaque of political instability, impoverishment, massive corruption, and under-performed socio-economic development.

In the midst of this struggle to create a sustainable democratic government and economic development, the integration of Election Monitoring Intelligence Systems (EMIS) into the existing election infrastructure could help promote peace in various African countries with free and fair elections results; a sign of new beginning of trust integrity, and honesty for the purpose of national building.

The concept of Election Intelligence(EI) has been used for decades in advanced countries like United States to help provide reliable credible elections results and to predict the probability for a candidate to win a given election. Political leaders and campaign organizers also use data from EI to develop new strategies to help their candidates be ahead of the game to win elections.

The political analysts using the data from gallop polls, opinion polls, past elections, and from exist poll can predict accurately with a margin of error the presumptive winner of a given election. This process helps build trust and confidence among the citizens to accept the outcome of the elections to move forward to contribute meaningful to the socioeconomic advancement of their country.

Conversely, elections characterized with fear, tension, and lack of transparency is a recipe for political instability and anarchy. Political elections outcomes are vital for any given country to come together as a nation to confront the global challenges.

This was obvious for the 2015 elections in Nigeria, the whole world was watching with keen interest waiting for one of the biggest economy in Africa to fall into total destruction due to elections irregularities and fraud but they came out victorious with the helped of Advanced technology in the form of Election Intelligence(EI) and the use of Artificial Intelligence for Monitoring Elections (AIME) an experimental open source social media analytic platform that synchronizes tweets and other social media data with regards to instances of violence, election rigging, and voter issues.

Furthermore, the difference between the Arab Spring of 2010 and the Revolutions of 1848, also known as the "Springtime of Nations", and the Prague Spring in 1968 is the power of the internet. Most governments in power in Arab regions tried to circumvent the access to the internet but they fail miserably.

The fact is that global media makes huge profit depending on chaotic situations, state of anarchy, and political instability around the globe especially in Africa. Facebook, Twitter, and other global media outlets were able to reroute the internet assess which created more sensation and to attract more global attention.

Another alternative of blocking internet access, is to create a national social media interface like the one President Obama has for his selfies as a hub of reliable firsthand information based on facts and imperial evidence.

Instead of disbanding the youth with great talent in internet technologies, we can create a new internet platform not only to provide them jobs for national security but also to boost their entrepreneurship spirit to enable them to compete on the global level with their counterparts in the United States, China, and India.

Lessons learned from the past elections in Uganda and other African countries explained the situation where the foreign election observers including the European observers most at times found it difficult to issue a strong statement about the elections irregularities and other reported abuses against the opposition and other civil society.

This is a common phenomenon across the African continent, for the fear of the incumbent of the government and not to creating confusing and other political instability, the international observers have limited options to present the abysmal picture of a given election.

The EMIS is a great tool to provide foreign international observers the evidence based information to make bold statements about elections` process and procedurals.

My first personal experience of elections in Ghana was in 1992, I can still recount when the election results were announced on the radio, one of my uncles did all the computations with just a book and a pen with no calculator. We went to the park where they have erected a huge board and the officials will write the results with chalk as they are announced them.

There will be bonfire, music and fanfare as the small traders sell local food for the crowd to enjoy. One might think how redundant and inefficient this system is but yet still the people have greater confidence in the system and they will spend the whole night waiting patiently for the projections of the election results.

The 21st century is marked with advanced technology which has transformed all facets of life and now everyone around the world including the remotest village in Africa has access to global advanced computing environments with the internet and the smartphones.

This is an ideal environment to deploy Election Monitoring Intelligence Systems (EMIS) a cloud based application that can provide real-time provisional unconfirmed elections results data from exist polls and results from the polling stations. A typical EMIS can be integrated with online analytic platform (OLAP), Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Google Maps, and with cloud computing interface to create a unique platform to analyze the elections results.

It is important to note that there are numerous organizations around the world especially in the United States that can easily deploy the EMIS effectively at a subsidiary cost.

There are non-profit organizations including Future Africa Foundation who has shown keen interest in EMIS and they are all ready to help Ghana Elections 2016 and then afterwards to replicate it throughout all the countries in Africa during elections to promote peace and to create civic awareness through internet educational platform.

Lastly, EMIS is the form of advanced technology that can reinforce our existing democratic systems in Africa with evidenced based provisional elections results that will be much more transparent and verifiable to build the confidence in the citizens to accept the outcomes of the elections and unite them under one government to address the challenges facing the country on the Global level.

This article is help create awareness of the EMIS acceptance as research studies indicates that social influence is vital for new technology acceptance so let`s spread the news around for better Ghana and better Africa with new hope for the next generations to come.

Kennedy K. Amofa PhD is a Business Adjunct Professor at Grand Canyon University Phoenix, AZ, USA. E-mail: kenamofa@gmail.com