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NGO convenes workshop to explore AI’s impact on Nigeria’s future elections

NGO convenes workshop to explore AI’s impact on Nigeria’s future elections
April 20
17:51 2024

Webfala Digital Skills for All Initiative (WDSFaI), a civil society organisation, has convened a stakeholders’ engagement workshop on artificial intelligence (AI) and the future of elections in Nigeria.

In a statement on Saturday, the organisation said the workshop was organised in a bid to harness the potential of AI to improve the electoral processes in the country.

The workshop, which held in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, on Friday, brought together officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), media professionals, information technology experts, civil society organisations (CSOs), security agencies, religious and community leaders.

Participants at the workshop deliberated on the role of AI in enhancing the conduct of elections in Nigeria and also explored ways to leverage AI in areas such as voter registration, vote counting, election monitoring and countering of fake news and hate speech.

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In her opening remark, Bakare Nafisat, the executive director of WDSFaI, said the workshop provides a platform for stakeholders in the electoral process to discuss opportunities and challenges posed by AI in the management of elections in the country.

Workshop participants

“AI has become a part of our daily lives and has been at the centre of discussions around the world. With its potential and sophistication, AI can impact positively or negatively on the electoral process. This workshop, therefore, aims to explore ways AI could enhance the credibility and transparency of elections in Nigeria,” Nafisat said.

“We also believe that discussions here will assist stakeholders in the electoral process, especially INEC and security agencies, to prepare for upcoming elections in the country.”

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The director said as a follow-up to the stakeholders’ engagement workshop, her organisation is also organising a hackathon to seek technology-driven solutions to address the challenges of election management in the country.

While delivering his presentation, Wale Bakare, a tech expert and director of partnerships of the organisation, noted that the increasingly AI-driven world, it is imperative for electoral stakeholders to understand the operations of new technologies so as to safeguard the integrity and credibility of the electoral process.

He said technology, particularly AI tools, will shape future elections around the world, including Nigeria, adding that AI has the potential to either positively or negatively impact the electoral process.

Bakare, however, urged actors in the electoral process to focus on how to deploy AI tools to improve the electoral system rather than undermine it.

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Speaking further, the tech expert said one of the ways AI could impact the integrity of the electoral process was through the dissemination of fake news and harmful content like deepfakes.

Bakare explained that while disinformation of fake news and hate speech is not new, they can now be created and disseminated on a large scale with AI tools.

Bakare, therefore, called on electoral stakeholders, especially CSOs and the media to create more awareness on the dangers of fake news, while also calling on Nigerians to always verify sources of information before sharing it online.

On his part, Abdulkadir Ibrahim, the head of public affairs unit and protocol officer at the INEC office in Kwara, said the electoral body is open to exploring innovative solutions to increase participation in electoral process and improve transparency and integrity of elections.

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