African Elections Project launched in Malawi
Across Africa, elections are now becoming the de facto means of selecting political leaders; however, there is a dearth of elections information and knowledge online. As a means of contributing to resolve this problem, the African Elections Project was conceived to provide coverage of elections using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) across the continent.
After a successful take-off in Ghana, Cote d' lvoire and Guinea, the African Elections Project (AEP) launched its Malawi phase of the project in Blantyre on 6th May 2009. The Malawi project has the following key components : Training for senior editors, journalists and reporters; development and dissemination of an election guide for the media, an SMS/Mobile application in election coverage and monitoring; information and knowledge Online Portal ( www.africanelections.org/malawi ) and Knowledge products for the media and Media Content Monitoring. Through this project, mobile phone users in Malawi will be able to access election news updates and certified results through a short code service number (2009) provided by Telekoms Network Malawi (TNM) whilst email users will be able to subscribe to newsfeeds directly from the website. Malawi Presidential and Parliamentary elections is scheduled to take place on 19th May 2009.
At the launch of this project in Blantyre, the Executive Director of Media Council of Malawi (MCM), Mr. Baldwin Chiyamwaka said "this project is a welcome development since it provides country specific relevant elections information contributed by journalists and ordinary citizens. Also, it integrates SMS as broadcast, monitoring and citizen journalism tool, as mobile phones have become increasingly preferred means of communication in Africa due to their convenience and relatively low cost of deployment". He added that Malawi should be proud to be the first country in Southern Africa where the African Elections Project has been launched this year.
Also present at the launch were key partners including Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN), National Media Institute for Southern African (NAMISA) and National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC).
In a message, Ms. Thandi Mbvundula, the ICT Programme Manager for the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) said "We are excited to be part of this project and to support its launch within the Southern African region, primarily because of its contributory role in deepening democracy and supporting the creation of open societies through capacity building for the media, while at the same time providing a unique online elections information and knowledge platform that will eventually provide transparent access to the electoral processes across the African continent".
The African Elections Project-Malawi is coordinated by the International Institute for ICT Journalism ( www.penplusbytes.org ) working hand in hand with key partners with funding from the Open Society Initiative for Southern African (OSISA - www.osisa.org )
Project Coordinator (Malawi)