Ahead of the 2021 general elections, understanding the need for voter education, the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance in partnership with the KAS (Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung), have rolled out Uchaguzi, a multi-pronged digital platform through which information on the voting process can be accessed at convenience.
KAS) is a German political foundation closely associated with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
The ministry is implementing the project through Government Citizen's Interaction Centre (GCIC), its unit charged with facilitating online interaction between Ugandan citizens and the Government through various digital channels.
GCIC is headed by Awel Uwihanganye, who at the unveiling of the platforms on Friday at the ministry headquarters in Kampala, noted that the platform “provides a very unique opportunity to engage with citizens.”
Uchaguzi comprises a website, an application (Android and iOS) and a chatbot which you can interact with to get information on presidential candidates, Members of Parliament (MPs) and all vital data related to the 2021 electoral process.
The information used on these platforms is sourced from the Electoral Commission (EC), according to officials, who also revealed that the WhatsApp-powered chatbot will be active 24/7.
“The Chatbot will also be purposeful in sending urgent electoral messages to all Ugandans who will opt-in for the service,” officials said at the launch.
“Since WhatsApp is the most widely used messaging platform in the world, the impact this will have on the Ugandan election will be enormous and can potentially cover as many as 15 million voters.”
Kampala Post understands that the platforms come with data protection safeguards.
Anna Reismann, the country director of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Uganda and South Sudan, noted that the Uchaguzi initiative will play a huge role in creating awareness and facilitating a fruitful election.
“With the 2021 General Elections due on January 14th, KAS is delighted to have partnered with the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance to bring to you the Uchaguzi digital platform that provides the electorate with all the basic information regarding presidential and parliamentary elections. The Uchaguzi website, the Uchaguzi App and the Uchaguzi Chat-bot outline the key policy positions as presented by the different political parties and independent candidates,” Reismann said.
“They are also a central user-friendly source of accurate, trustworthy, and up-to-date information about the forthcoming general elections amidst a pandemic. The digital tools have been created to bridge the citizen’s electoral knowledge gap, facilitate voter education and provide a platform to engage with key constituents of the electoral process.”
Reismann emphasised the need for making voter information easily accessible, adding that the platforms have been made user-friendly and easy to access and understand.
“The Electoral Commission appreciates the efforts of the Government Citizen’s Interaction Centre (GCIC) at the Ministry of ICT & National Guidance, in reinforcing the EC efforts of educating and sensitizing voters ahead of the forthcoming General Elections,” said Mulekwah Leonard, the acting secretary of the EC.
In this era of pervasive fake news, it is hoped that Uchaguzi will significantly power the process of fighting fake news in the electoral cycle.
“It’s a platform which will synergize facts from credible sources such as the Uganda Electoral Commission and put it in the public domain through the official website, App and WhatsApp chat-bot,” officials said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that it is imperative that we rely only on factually correct and verified information. When facts are incorrect, it leads to panic and takes the form of a vicious cycle. Fake news is an extremely popular tool for propaganda during elections, hence the introduction of uchaguzi platforms to enable fact checking and providing accurate information to the citizens.”
The website and apps contain six key components. There is a section with information on all political parties, another on presidential candidates, MP candidates; a quiz to test your knowledge of the electoral process and key SOPs.
You’ll also find knowledge on information on how to vote. “On January 14th, citizens will exercise their constitutional right to vote for the leaders of their choice,” said Bagire Vincent Waiswa, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.
“The Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, in applying its mandate, wants to ensure that as they exercise their right to vote, citizens get access to information, to help them to make informed decisions.”
You can visit the website to download the apps.