Podcast: Africa and the perils of electronic voting

In this episode, the host, Nathi Mcetywa introduces the new feature of the podcast, What in the Civic Tech?, and discusses the possibility of moving Africa’s election process from a paper-based voting system to an electronic voting system. Our guest, Dr. Maxwell Masseko, talks about the readiness of South Africa and the African continent for e-voting. They explore the benefits and challenges of e-voting, including issues of trust, digital divide, infrastructure, and political will. While South Africa is seen as ready for e-voting, the readiness of the rest of the African continent varies.

Dr Maxwell Maseko, a postdoc fellow at the Tayarisha Centre based at the Wits School of Governance in Johannesburg. His research primarily focuses on media and governance, particularly in areas of democracy, digitalisation in the public sector, protests, and citizen participation.

Takeaways

  • The discussion about electronic voting in Africa and around the world has been ongoing for many years, driven by concerns about declining democracy, distrust in government systems, and challenges in vote counting.
  • The readiness for electronic voting in Africa varies due to challenges such as the digital divide, lack of ICT skills, political will, and budget constraints.
  • Electronic voting can be a tool to address voter apathy, especially among young people, but it requires wider public consultation and buy-in from political parties.
  • The adoption of electronic voting should be accompanied by policies, infrastructure development, and addressing security concerns to ensure the integrity of the elections.
  • While South Africa is considered ready for electronic voting, the readiness of the rest of the African continent depends on the specific country’s context and challenges.

Keywords

Civic Tech, Africa, podcast, electronic voting, paper-based voting, readiness, benefits, challenges, trust, digital divide, infrastructure, political will

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