As Nigeria’s gubernatorial polls draw to a close today, I’m reminded of a noteworthy development during the entire 2011 election cycle: the use of technology. My Research Associate Asch Harwood writes today that new forms of connectivity—everything from mobile phones, to social media, to digital cameras—have improved citizen participation and election observation in Nigeria:
Their impact has been threefold—contributing documentation to Nigeria’s electoral record, empowering Nigeria’s connected youth to participate in the democratic process, and building capacity around technologies that are increasing becoming indispensable tools for securing democracy globally.
Harwood makes it clear that new technology is not a “panacea.” Connectivity issues can limit reporting from rural areas, and some information may be less than reliable. On the whole, however, new forms of connectivity are an important, positive step for democracy in the country and the region.