Ghanaian government to ensure biometric voting system by 2016

Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Communications, on Thursday said government had targeted 2016 for the implementation of biometric voting system in Ghana.

“Government is ready to ensure that e-voting becomes a reality in 2016 but if things go well we may even start with it in 2012,” he told a meeting of ICT and e-governance experts in Accra.

The minister said this when he opened the maiden two-day General Meeting of the Africa E-Governance Academy (AEA).

The academy, jointly established by the Open Society Institute of West Africa (OSIWA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was designed to develop and transfer knowledge and expertise concerning e-governance in West African countries as well as in Mauritania and Chad.

It would be hosted by the Kofi Annan Centre for Excellence and dedicated to research and development in the areas of improving public sector service delivery, encouraging citizens’ participation in decision-making and making government more accountable, transparent and effective.

Mr Iddrisu urged the academy to carry e-voting on board their programmes, saying that the success of e-governance began with an effective e-voting system that would ensure that electoral fraud and malpractices were reduced to the barest minimum.

He said the biometric electoral system would, for instance, eliminate the registration of minors, reduce the number of hours for vote counting and improve the legitimacy of the electoral roll and the electoral process.

“Government recognizes the independence of the Electoral Commission and does not wish to influence the Electoral Commission (EC) in any way, but we believe that the biometric system has enormous advantages that the EC will not ignore,” he said.

Mr Iddrisu said government was also committed to establishing e-legislature and e-judiciary systems beginning from next year, adding the e-legislation, for instance, would improve communication between Parliament and the electorate as well as between Parliament and the Executive.

He said the computerization of the court system would also speed up the adjudication process and ensure that the situation where judges delivered hand-written judgments would become a thing of the past.

Mr Ben Akoh, Programmes Manager of OSIWA, said an effective e-governance system would allow citizens access to government records related to them and thereby allow easy participation in decision-making.

He said besides capacity building and deployment of ICT infrastructure, the academy would also seek to define the structures within which the e-governance system would operate effectively within the African context.

Mr Akoh spoke about concerns concerning security of classified information in the face of an e-governance system and said measures would be put in place to ensure an effective balance between access and security of information with particular regard to specific institutions like the military and other security agencies.

Ms Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Director of Democratic Governance Group (DGG) of the UNDP, said e-governance would facilitate the success of pro-poor policies and programmes in Africa.

She therefore urged the academy to ensure that e-governance systems were fashioned in a manner that would reach the masses and grant them access to the necessary information to participate in decision-making.

“Language and geography should not be barriers in the way of the masses from benefiting from the e-governance,” she said.


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