Workshop on Electoral Operational Planning, Freetown 1-3 June 2011

“It was an opportunity to listen to the Nigerian and Sierra Leone experiences on biometric voter registration and learn about the challenges they encountered as well as what worked and what didn’t work for them. These exchanges will go a long way to improve registration operations in the region.”

With these words Peninah Immaculate Kassait, director of voter registration and electoral operations at the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) of Kenya, acknowledged a productive session on ICTs in voter registration at a June 2011 workshop in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital. Kassait also shared with the assembly the voter registration process the IIEC undertook in 2010.

The workshop on electoral operational planning was organized by GPECS with the support of the UNDP Country Office in Sierra Leone and in association with members of the EC-UNDP Joint Task Force on Electoral Assistance and the Procurement Support Office (PSO).

The workshop brought together representatives from UNDP, EMBs and relevant stakeholders from across the continent that are and will be working together in the management of electoral processes. Attendees discussed their experiences and practices of planning, budgeting and procurement for electoral cycles. They considered  lessons learned and good practices in these domains, and offered operational recommendations to improve the administration of electoral processes and projects supporting such processes. 

As the president of Guinea’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), Lousény Camara, said, “These exchanges allowed people from different backgrounds and different regions of the continent to better understand what was done elsewhere and to highlight, by comparison, what practices should be generalized.”

In the context of the increased involvement of UNDP country offices in electoral assistance, the exchanges were a great opportunity for staff from UNDP and EMBs to understand each other’s needs, practices, and procedures, and thus improve their collaboration to the benefit of future electoral processes.

Fatoumata Kané from the UNDP Country Office in Mali came to the workshop with her national counterpart, Moriba Sinayoko, deputy director for elections in the Malian Ministry of Territorial Administration. They work together on a daily basis in preparing for the 2012 national elections. Fatoumata said the workshop allowed her to “better understand the challenges confronting the ministry in the organisation of elections.” Moriba, meanwhile, said that that he had previously viewed UNDP’s role in a narrow way, but that he now “understands that...collaboration with the organisation can be deepened, especially in terms of budgeting and procurement methodology.”

Electoral budgeting and procurement were studied in depth because, as emphasized by Okechukwu Ndeche, the director of operations of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), “Budgeting and procurement are long and uncertain tasks that have a tremendous impact on the electoral process credibility and success”. Okechukwu therefore recommended that “sufficient time and resources be dedicated to these activities in order to streamline the whole electoral process.”

The workshop agenda as well as the participatory approach adopted were well appreciated by the participants, who called for this kind of workshop to be held on a more frequent basis so that they can discuss new and specific challenges. In order to disseminate widely the lessons learned during the workshop, the attendees will share what they learned to their colleagues and the workshop recommendations will be published.

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