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African election embarrassment down to people and processes, not technology

The lack of process and training given to people applying technology in African elections is the likely culprit when things go wrong, according to Stan Khan, managing director (MD) of South African Muvoni Biometric & Smartcard Solutions (MBSS).

HumanIPO reported extensively on the failures of technology during the Kenyan elections last week, which included the abandonment of the much celebrated biometric system.

Ghana also encountered problems with biometric technology in its December 2012 elections.

Speaking to HumanIPO at Cards and Payments Africa 2013, in Sandton, Johannesburg, MBSS MD Khan said: “I am not entirely surprised [by the failures]. There are three things to consider: the technology, the people and processes and the preparation before the event.

“These technologies are easy when they are working fine, but what do you do when it stops working. There needs to be the knowledge to solve the problem quickly without holding up the queue.”

MBSS are well integrated into the biometric and authentication industry in southern Africa with clients including the South African Police Service (SAPS), providing biometric tools for their criminal database, African Bank and drivers’ licences in Namibia.

They are also currently active in Mozambique and Swaziland, where they are reported to be among a group of companies vying for the biometric voter-registration tender to be implemented in this year’s general elections.

With a registered adult population of just 500,000, the scale of the project is not as big as those in Kenya and Ghana.

Khan says they have not been put off by what has happened in the above mentioned elections.

He added: “Unfortunately with these projects they are very high profile and visible in the media so you basically have to get it right. But we are not scared. It is a lot of pre-planning and that is the challenge.

“In a welfare system when you use biometrics, there is more patience. If something has gone wrong then you can tell people to come back later or the next day, but you don’t have that in an election. You only really have one day.”

 

Originally published by Richard Cutcher on March 13, 2013

Copyright  HumanIPO

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