Election Observation in the Digital Era: Challenges and Opportunities for West Africa

June 10, 2015
03:00 pm - 05:00 pm

About the Event


Tidiani Togola, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

With comments by:

Sophia Moestrup, National Democratic Institute

Moderated by:

Zerxes Spencer, International Forum for Democratic Studies

In West Africa, elections are widely viewed as the main pillar of democracy. Election results are often contested, however, and violence in the post-election period can be catastrophic. To ensure electoral integrity and facilitate a peaceful post-election outcome, national, regional, and international bodies have sought to introduce election observation mechanisms that take advantage of the latest innovations in digital technology. Over the past ten years, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have contributed greatly to the success of election observation missions across Africa, enhancing the quality of data collected, as well as making it possible to identify election-day incidents and often to address them in real time. Despite this undeniable success, the introduction of ICTs has not been without its share of challenges: Poor infrastructure, lack of training, and resistance to change from governments and civil society alike have all prevented ICTs from realizing their true potential. In his presentation, Tidiani Togola will examine the opportunities and challenges offered by the use of ICTs in election observation in West Africa. Drawing upon his experiences as an ICT expert, he will explore the new frontiers in technological advancement and consider how ICTs might overcome technical difficulties and political constraints and help open a path toward a peaceful and democratic Africa.  His presentation will be followed by comments by Sophia Moestrup.

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About the Speakers

Mr. Tidiani Togola is an ICT specialist at the Réseau D’Appui au Processus Electoral au Mali and technical director of Mali’s National Agency for Telehealth and Medical Informatics. From 2006 to 2009, he served as national coordinator for the international volunteering association ICVolunteer, in which capacity he promoted the concept of cyber-volunteering. A pioneer in the use of digital technologies to strengthen democracy, governance, and citizenship in Africa, he has developed a web application that to facilitate impartial election monitoring in Mali, as well as an SMS method that permits real-time observation. During his fellowship, Mr. Togola is exploring the potential contribution of ICTs to practice of electoral observation in Francophone West Africa. Sophia Moestrup is deputy director for Central and West Africa at the National Democratic Institute.