ELECTORAL Support Network in Southern Africa (ESN-SA) has urged Africa to adopt artificial intelligence  (AI) in elections to enhance the speed and accuracy of data collection and analysis.

AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems.

Speaking yesterday during the Artificial Intelligence and Elections in Africa meeting in Kenya, ESN-SA chairperson Rindai Chipfunde Vava, however, noted some challenges in using AI.

Vava said issues around potential biases in data analysis and privacy concerns are some risks associated with AI, although some of the risks can be addressed through strengthening security systems.

“There’s a need to ensure the security and integrity of AI systems to prevent manipulation or interference with the electoral process,” Vava said.

She urged capacity building of election observer groups to critically assess the use of AI in elections and identify potential risks or biases, while calling for collaboration with tech experts to help election observer groups to better understand the capabilities and limitations of AI systems.

She said there was also need to establish secure communication channels for observers to report and share sensitive information to mitigate against interception and data tampering.

Vava said due diligence was needed on the use of AI to empower observers.

“As the AI appetite grows within African elections, it will be important that opportunities for partnership with international cyber experts are tapped into so that they contribute to the discourse and implementation,” she noted.

Over 20 African countries are set to hold elections this year.

Zimbabwe is holding some by-elections next month to fill parliamentary seats left vacant in Harare East and Mt Pleasant following the resignation of former Citizens Coalition for Change members Fadzayi Mahere and Rusty Markham citing infiltration of the party.

Neighbouring South Africa is set to hold its general elections this year. — NewsDay

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