Data + Elections

Workshop on digital data and elections

Update: This event has now passed. Please watch the recording.

25 November @ 12:30 UK time, 13:30 WAT and 15:30 EAT

We will be joined by Seema Shah, Boye Adegoke, and Laura Lazara Cabrera.

Please register on Eventbrite >>

East Africa’s digital data are not only a commercial resource. Records from mobile communications, finance, and media are also reshaping governance, democracy, and elections. With Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya all holding elections by 2022, this is a particularly pressing topic. The granularity of information available about individual voters, their behaviours, and proclivities is transforming the practice of politics in East Africa and beyond. The accumulation of data from voters may offer an opportunity to develop policies that respond to citizens’ interests, desires, and demands. Both Uber and IBM, for instance, are using mobility data in Nairobi to improve traffic management. Yet there is also a dark side. Cambridge Analytica, the infamous political consulting firm, developed many of the methods it was to later use during the Brexit referendum and the 2016 American elections when working in Kenyan elections. They are not alone: politicians, parties, and consultants are pioneering new forms of online data gathering and advertising. A recent report from Senegal, for instance, explains how the incumbent gathered dozens of data points on 3.5 million voters in order to structure his campaign.

How do the business models of social media (focused on engagement and virality) change the nature of political discourse? Does this represent a more responsive electoral system, or one characterised by elections designed by data engineers in a lab? What are the options for storing securely and controlling this information within a democratic system? And how might data ethics inform politics in contexts of gendered and classed inequality?

This event will start 12:30 UK time, 15:30 EAT and 13:30 WAT, and is expected to last 90 minutes. The event will be digitally recorded.

Platform and access

This event will run on Zoom Webinar. Registered attendees will receive links for access to each session; the necessary links will be available in the confirmation emails as well as in reminder emails in the same week as the workshop. If you are registered but haven’t received the confirmation and reminder emails, please check email filters (for example junk filters). For security reasons, you must have (or create) an eventbrite account in order to access the login details. Technical information about attending a Zoom event is available on the Zoom website.