Voting by phone

14 October 2020 | Opinion

Professor Eno Akpabio



The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates indicate a mobile cellular subscription of 80.1 per 100 inhabitants in the African continent in 2019.

Quite a decent figure of the uptake of mobile phones, given that the global average is 108. But it is the creative and innovative use of the mobile phone and its democratisation potential that is the focus of the present reflection.

Mobile phones are used for money transfer in East Africa with Kenya accounting, according to Jeffrey James, for 80% of its use, much more than in Tanzania and Uganda. Its uptake is based on the perception that it is a safer way of sending money than through interpersonal means. Dejene Negassa Debsu, Peter Little, Waktole Tiki, Sarah Anne Guagliardo and Uriel Kit document the use of mobile phones among livestock traders and Borana pastoralists of southern Ethiopia who employ them to access information on grazing, the weather and market conditions.

Jenny Aker and Isaac Mbiti record its use by Ghanaians to learn about tomato and corn prices and by Nigerians to enquire about cross-border job opportunities before making the expensive trip to Benin. They report that in Malawi, people living with HIV/AIDS can receive text messages daily, reminding them to take their medication on schedule.

Citizens of Kenya, Nigeria and Mozambique are able to report violent confrontations via text messages to a centralised server that is viewable in real time.



Expensive elections

If cell phones can do all this world of good, why not deploy them in elections? I mean, we came up with all these cost-effective innovations without the aid of the West due to the peculiarities of our environment. Yet, when it comes to voting and civic participation, we go the expensive route. We print ballot papers which are thumb-printed en masse to rig the vote.

Elections are marred by violence and ballot-snatching, among other machinations of desperate politicians to deny the will of the electorate. It is about time we explored how to get people to register and vote by mobile phones, thus getting rid of the long queues and violence that is intended to disenfranchise them.

By the way, people are voting in their millions for reality shows that appeal to the lowest common denominator and voyeuristic interests. This is being done by young people from the comfort of their homes, as the just concluded Big Brother Naija reality show attests to, in spite of the chagrin of the older folks, religious and government figures who condemn the immorality that is on full display.

Voting by mobile phone might get more people engaged, improve the turn-out and finally give us leaders who are really the people's will rather than kingmakers who do not believe that the people should be allowed to use their dirty hands to choose those to govern them.



Credibility

The auditing that is presently being employed in ensuring that votes for reality housemates are not rigged and that mobile money does not disappear into thin air can also be deployed in giving credibility to this style of voting.

While we are at it, can we also devise an African way of choosing our leaders from the grassroots up and ditch the party-based tribalism that is an evil wind blowing no one any good worldwide?

This way, leaders can emerge from the grassroots and these can congregate at the centre and choose a prime minister – a first among equals.

Our village leadership system from our glorious past can assist in this regard.

As a consequence, we will be adding value to democracy and civic participation, rather than just aping the West and their imported, unworkable system that is not attuned to the African context. It seems to cause more tribal and religious divisions, which disturb the peace and quiet we should all be enjoying.



*Professor Eno Akpabio is head of the media section in the department of information and communication studies at the University of Namibia. The views expressed in this article are strictly those of the author and not of the university he works for.

Similar News

 

The ugly face in the mirror

17 hours ago | Opinion

In modern society, statistics are continually glorified as critical and relevant in determining the scope of the challenges we face.With this in mind, it was...

Landless in the Land of the Brave

17 hours ago | Opinion

Mabasa Sasa At the close of Namibia’s ruling party Swapo’s fifth congress on 2 December 2012, party leader and state president at the time, Hifikepunye...

A mindset metamorphosis

1 day - 26 October 2020 | Opinion

The upcoming local and regional authority elections represent an opportunity for the country to finally move away from harking back to past victories and struggles.As...

Let us de-politicise PG job

4 days ago - 23 October 2020 | Opinion

The hype and hullabaloo around the looming appointment of the country’s new prosecutor-general (PG) tells us that this is an issue of great public interest.The...

Geingob tore up the constitution

4 days ago - 23 October 2020 | Opinion

Tsudao GurirabTomorrow, a week ago, on the occasion of the launch of Swapo's campaign for the November elections, President Hage Geingob tore up the country's...

Namibians must reject the regime change agenda

4 days ago - 23 October 2020 | Opinion

Kazenambo KazenamboRetrogressive forces and reactionary elements are hard at work, pursuing overt and covert attempts for achievement of regime change in Namibia. They are appearing...

The best BIG is jobs

5 days ago - 22 October 2020 | Opinion

The idea of a basic income grant (BIG), where the fundamental premise is that government gives every citizen a regular infusion of free money with...

Unemployment drives youth into electoral candidacy

6 days ago - 21 October 2020 | Opinion

Yesterday, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) announced that a whopping 93 independent candidates have been registered to contest in the upcoming regional council elections.In...

Don't judge on the basis of race

6 days ago - 21 October 2020 | Opinion

TONI HANCOXThe Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) objects to any characterisation of Namibian voters by race or ethnicity. Not all white voters have the same opinions,...

Use of 'war' in electoral battle is fairly routine

6 days ago - 21 October 2020 | Opinion

SOPHIA SHANINGWAOn 17 October 2020, the president of the Swapo Party, Comrade Hage G Geingob successfully launched our campaign for the November 2020 regional and...

Latest News

Shifeta: Tourism revival ongoing

17 hours ago | Business

The latest relaxation of travel controls does not mean the end of the International Tourist Revival Initiative (TRI). This is according to tourism minister Pohamba...

Thousands register for phosphate jobs

17 hours ago | Business

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKNamibian Marine Phosphate has received more than 4 000 registrations within the first two weeks of its job registration drive in preparation for its...

Ndeitunga warns political trolls

17 hours ago | Politics

KENYA KAMBOWERUNDUPolice chief Sebastian Ndeitunga has warned political actors to avoid insulting others or risk facing crimen injuria charges if their opponents open cases against...

Am Weinberg owner to oppose...

17 hours ago | Business

OGONE TLHAGE - Property owner Archie Graham is opposing the liquidation of the Am Weinberg Boutique Hotel and various other businesses owned by him. Bank...

Agriculture investment declining

17 hours ago | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKPublic investment in the agriculture sector has been on a declining trajectory from an average of 4.6% of the national budget 10 years ago...

The ugly face in the...

17 hours ago | Opinion

In modern society, statistics are continually glorified as critical and relevant in determining the scope of the challenges we face.With this in mind, it was...

Tanzania's 'Bulldozer' hopes mega-projects impress...

17 hours ago | Economics

John Magufuli's investments and his refusal to shut down Tanzania's economy this year have buoyed his already strong chances of winning a second five-year term.NAIROBI...

Decentralisation a sore point ...

17 hours ago | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKESWINDHOEKEven though the government’s decentralisation campaign seems to have ground to a halt, the wide array of political players contesting next month’s local authority...

Woman tied up, baby put...

17 hours ago | Crime

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThis past week has once again been plagued by horrific reports of rapes, gender-based violence and assaults.On Sunday, two suspects wearing balaclavas cut open...

Load More