#Innov4Democracy Hackathon: African Innovators for Democracy at the Forefront 

#Innov4Democracy Hackathon: African Innovators for Democracy at the Forefront 

31 mai, 2024

From 21st to 22nd May 2024, the final phase of the #Innov4Democracy hackathon was held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The theme was “Innovating for democracy and good governance in Africa.” After much anticipation, the Isika project from Madagascar won the competition following pitches by the finalists in front of a jury of experts in technological innovation, communication, economic intelligence, and democratic governance.

The opening ceremony, which saw the participation of the national and continental Civic Tech community, was chaired by Mrs Abibata Tientega Barry, in charge of constitutional issues at the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the African Union (AU) Commission, Mr Cyriac Gbogou, Vice-President of AfricTivistes, Ms Aisha Dabo, Programmes’ Coordinator at AfricTivistes, and Mr Abdou Aziz Cissé, Hackathon Coordinator.

The Ivorian capital was, during two days, the place to meet those who promote democratic values through civic tech, being recognised and celebrated at their true value.

In his welcome speech, the Vice-President of AfricTivistes, Cyriac Gbogou, praise the host of people dedicated to the cause of democracy in Africa, in the country of the Ebrié lagoon: “Your presence here testifies to your commitment to the promotion of democracy and good governance on our continent.”

Mr Gbogou went on to address the finalists, “to these young people, we say your creativity, your commitment and your innovations are assets that can promote citizen participation, access to public information and the accountability of public authorities.”

To highlight the AfricTivistes initiative of putting democratic innovators in competition, Mrs Barry, recalled the need for collaboration between States and civil society to “promote regular and responsible use of digital tools for good governance. But also to promote the many projects developed and implemented on the continent that strengthen citizen participation.”

Following Mrs Barry’s remarks, Abdou Aziz Cissé discussed the activities of AfricTivistes within the framework of the Charter Project Africa consortium, within which this competition is being implemented. The five finalists also presented their technological solutions to the audience to conclude the opening ceremony.

This gathering was also the opportunity to continue the discussion over two days on a variety of complementary themes: Civic Tech and Democratic Governance in Africa, the Emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Elections in Africa, and the Legal Framework for Civic Tech Practice in Africa.

The first panel on the impact of Civic Tech on democratic governance in Africa allowed speakers such as Mr Sedrick N’gotta, a digital activist, to review the successes of digital innovations in Côte d’Ivoire. As for Mrs Barry, she outlined the initiatives of the AU which, according to her, “supports creators because it believes in youth and its potential in line with Agenda 2063, which recommends putting young people at the heart of public policies.”

The second panel then allowed the largely novice audience to gain a better understanding of the benefits and risks of using AI in electoral processes. The speakers also took advantage of this forum to call for an inclusive dialogue between governments and civil society on the responsible use of AI, which must contribute to the transparency of electoral processes and not corrupt them.

Finally, the third and last theme allowed for an evaluation of the current laws and regulations that frame civic tech in Africa, identifying gaps and challenges. It also facilitated the often non-existent exchange between the public, state actors and non-state actors (CSOs, NGOs, etc.) to consider avenues to promote together a legal framework that is favourable to creators. It was also an opportunity to make recommendations for improving the existing legal framework to better support and regulate technological initiatives on the continent.

As for the hackathon itself, the finalists who came from Madagascar, Senegal, Chad, the Republic of Guinea and Benin, had the opportunity for two days, in a collaborative, friendly and convivial atmosphere, to refine their solutions with the support of eminent experts from the continent and beyond.

After the call for submissions, pre-selection, public voting and jury voting phases, and following a pitch, it was the Isika project from Madagascar led by Lova Mahanina Andrianantenaina that won the approval of the jury composed of Mr Mamadou Diagne, Data Scientist, Mr Israël Guebo, Entrepreneur, Media and Communication Professional, Ms Vanessa Djakeaux, Entrepreneurship Coach, and Mr Arsène Konan, Expert in Democratic Governance and Electoral Processes. The projects were ranked as follows by the hackathon jury:

Isika: A digital platform for citizen participation in Madagascar, encouraging citizen engagement and participation in the local decision-making process.

CitoyenSN: A smart legal guide in Senegal simplifying citizens’ access to instant answers on their rights through an AI-powered chatbot.

Ratoma Tech: A digital platform aiming to facilitate citizens’ access to public information related to the management of their municipality in Ratoma (Republic of Guinea), thus promoting transparency through data centralisation.

Nidoroualmewaafe: An initiative allowing authorities to address the primary social needs expressed by citizens on the platform in Chad.

Clic Citoyen: A digital platform cataloguing quasi-judicial institutions in Benin and allowing citizens to quickly lodge complaints in case of rights violations, corruption or other anti-social actions.

All these innovations ultimately aim to strengthen increased citizen participation and active involvement in democratic processes. They can then improve administrative transparency and efficiency and alleviate bureaucratic delays.

To conclude this innovation celebration in apotheosis, the Programmes’ Coordinator of AfricTivistes, Aisha Dabo, thanked the audience for their presence over the two days in support of these creative minds. At the same time, she encouraged the finalists, “Never underestimate your initiatives,” she advised them.

Echoing the Programmes’ Coordinator’s words, Mrs Barry also congratulated the finalists and urged them to persevere on this path, “Africa is 55 states and you were selected out of 26 projects, so you can be proud of yourselves.”

It can be recalled that AfricTivistes received twenty-six (26) projects, project ideas and prototypes from nine (9) African countries, and five (5) were selected for the final of this competition.

In addition to the financial support of €5,000 per finalist, the holders of the technological solutions will benefit from a four (4) month mentorship from AfricTivistes and its technical partners.

By organising this competition, AfricTivistes renews its commitment to promoting the use of digital technologies as appropriate tools to overcome the obstacles that citizens face in their quest for democratic expression in Africa.

About AfricTivistes 

AfricTivistes is a pan-African organisation based in Dakar. It brings together bloggers, web-activists and change agents from the continent to promote and defend democratic values, human rights and good governance through digital and new technologies.

Launched in November 2015, AfricTivistes is a sentinel of democracy in all African countries. As such, it is resolved to intervene directly or to advocate for the intervention of stakeholders in the various processes of political and social change. It carries out and leads development projects and citizen involvement in democratic processes.

Furthermore, AfricTivistes develops strategies to monitor and have political leaders monitored in their actions and the fulfilment of their promises, in order to encourage transparency and good governance. It is also a showcase of enhanced citizenship in Africa.

About the Charter Project Africa

The Charter Project Africa is a pan-African project focused on the commitments contained in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) – the main document aimed at advancing democratic governance in the Member States of the African Union. The project encourages the use of civic technology to amplify the voice of citizens. To this end, it provides financial resources, through grants, as well as technical resources, through expertise, to civic initiatives for democracy, particularly those led by underrepresented groups. This support is provided in eleven African Union Member States – Benin, Botswana, Cabo Verde, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia – as well as at the regional and continental levels. The project also opens up spaces for collaboration between citizens, civic initiatives and African Union policy makers at the national, regional and continental levels – with a focus on digital formats.

For more information, please write to us at: innov4democracy@africtivistes.org.

Share 👉🏿
Receive our newsletter

Recent Post

Related articles

Connecting Africa for an enhanced citizenship !