jeudi 4 novembre 2010

Ivory Coast presidential elections in the age of Web 2.0

Here is an article I wrote for Internet Without Borders website. You can also find a french version here.

Ivorian presidential elections Took place. After months of turmoil and wrangling, the Ivorians have taken part in the first round of elections held Sunday, October 31, 2010.

The holding of the first round in a calm general atmosphere was welcomed by most commentators in the mainstream international press and observers.
New this year, online participation of many citizens of Cote d'Ivoire who organized coverage of the election day using the variety of tools available on the Internet.

Freedom of communication by SMS maintained

Contrary to the announcement of the Telecommunications Agency of Côte d'Ivoire (ATCI) last Saturday about the suspension of SMS, all means of communication were maintained. The regulator had proposed the measure for reasons of public order and to prevent the spread of "rumors". Prime Minister Guillaume Soro returned to this decision at a press conference Saturday afternoon. Maintenance by the Government of Freedom of Information and Communication in Côte d'Ivoire during the first round of elections would prove the political maturity of citizens and political actors. 

"Let us solve all our problems in peace

Note especially the initiative of Diaby Cheik Mohamed which reflects the general mood in the streets of Ivory Coast: the will to turn this election period in time of reconciliation. The Peacevote project encourages site visitors to leave messages for peaceful Côte d'Ivoire. Site promotion was done by many voices of culture in Côte d'Ivoire: Aicha Kone, Ismael Isaac ...

CoveritLive on the site Avenue225 

Israel Yoroba, a journalism student and blogger and his team of Avenue225, Ivorian information site, made the story of voting and the general atmosphere prevailing in various parts of Côte d'Ivoire. Coverage outside major cities brought a wealth of additional information. Throughout the day, real-time information of events was ensured by CoveritLive application.

The France24 Observers

An interesting coverage was also put in place by France24 Observers. Thanks to two citizen journalists, we were informed that agents of the Electoral Independant Commission (IEC) were still waiting to receive wages for their work in polling stations.

The Election Buzz on Twitter 

On the social network Twitter, hashtags #civ2010 #wonzomai and  #peacevote, typed hundreds of times, are also a source of information for obtaining real-time news on the election by the citizens of Côte d'Ivoire: For instance incidents in polling stations in the Paris area were immediately reported by Twitter usersvia their mobile phones. The user @ MaryMary225 reported pushings and damages caused in Créteil (France).
Thanks to these elections, the Ivorian Twitter community has been strenghthened: New twitter accounts were updated and created, as notices by Twitter user Toussine

And many like Boua_7 describe the atmosphere in the country waiting for the results

Election results monitored and updated online

AlldenY, A french web dev and strategies company, put in place a website where citizens and others can find the results of the ballot as given by the EIC. Graphs give an interesting overview of trends.

The platform Wonzomai 

The platform deployed by Akendewa and Internet without Borders, Wonzomai, is a new experience in Francophone Africa. More than one Thousand visitors were well connected on Election Day, less than a week after its launch. It has mainly contributed to the Ivorian citizen outside who could thus have a glimpse of the vital information collected via Twitter.

One difficulty, appeared: automatic replication of information received via SMS has not worked properly on election day for technical reasons. However, a manual transcription of major incidents and statements received was made by Internet Without Borders and Akendewa teams. Also the necessity to link the various election monitoring organizations on the ground and teams that  operate for the platform became obvious.

What about Facebook ?        

Hundreds of thousands of Ivorians are connected to the social networking site Facebook. As well as reviews and politics discussions occured among users, candidates have used the network to campaign, for instance the outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo, whom many users  left messages of encouragement during the campaign. Ivorian Internet users have also shared their photographs on voting day. For example Nnenna Nwakanma subscribed on Faceboo who posted the link to an album created specially for the occasion.