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GCIC Release Uchaguzi Apps to Ease Access to Information on Uganda’s General Elections

Uchaguzi applications ensure there is interactivity and ease of access to information on electoral and voter education, as well as provide a civic education platform that will bridge the electoral knowledge gap.

Developers with the Government Citizen’s Interaction Centre (GCIC) under the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance have released the Uchaguzi iOS and Android applications ahead of the forthcoming Uganda 2021 general elections scheduled to happen Jan. 14th, 2020. The apps come after the web version was officially released on Jan. 1st, 2020 at the Ministry’s office in Kampala.

Uchaguzi in addition to the apps and web-based platforms is a WhatsApp Chat-bot offering same functionality as apps —therefore users can ought use instead of the app or website.

The apps are designed to ease access to information on Uganda’s 2021 general elections. Users are in position to access information on presidential candidates, members of parliament. In addition to this, the apps also offers a quiz to test one’s knowledge on the forthcoming elections, how to vote, Covid-19 SOPs guidelines, and all vital data related to the electoral process —all included in the app.

In this era of pervasive fake news, it is hoped that Uchaguzi will significantly power the process of fighting fake news in the electoral cycle. “It’s a platform which will synergize facts from credible sources such as the Uganda Electoral Commission and put it in the public domain through the official website, App and WhatsApp chat-bot,” officials said. Adding that fake news is an extremely popular tool for propaganda during elections, hence the introduction of Uchaguzi enables fact checking and providing accurate information to the citizens.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that it is imperative that we rely only on factually correct and verified information. When facts are incorrect, it leads to panic and takes the form of a vicious cycle.

About the apps, on design, swiftness, presentation to mention a few;

On launching the app, it begins with a disclaimer that notes that the “platform is not in any way affiliated to any politician, political party or political entity.” The disclaimer was highly emphasized by Mr. Awel Uwihanganye, Head of GCIC noting that the Uchaguzi is simply an alternative source of information about this year’s Uganda’s general election.

Awel Uwihanganye, Head of Government Citizen’s Interaction Centre (GCIC) speaking to press during the launch of the Uchaguzi at the Ministry of ICT offices in Kampala on Friday 1st, January 2021. (Photo by: Olupot Nathan Ernest | PC TECH MAGAZINE)
Awel Uwihanganye, Head of Government Citizen’s Interaction Centre (GCIC) speaking to press during the launch of the Uchaguzi at the Ministry of ICT offices in Kampala on Friday 1st, January 2021. (Photo by: Olupot Nathan Ernest | PC TECH MAGAZINE)

On accepting the disclaimer as well as the privacy policy and terms & conditions, the app opens and displays four sections; Home, Updates, Locator and About.

The home section is the main section displaying tabs including; Presidential Elections, Parliamentary Elections, How to Vote, Quiz, SOPs, and General Info. The Presidential Election tab shows the 11 aspiring candidates and their key policy issues. The Parliamentary Election section shows over 2000 aspiring Members of Parliament (MPs) and their key policy issues. The MPs can be filtered by district and constituency for easy search among the 2000 candidates. The How to Vote simply shows voters how to cast their votes, the Quiz section has 10 questions to test one’s knowledge about the forth elections. The SOPs section is included as to show guidelines of the Covid-19 pandemic and the General info section displays the EC Mandate, Electoral Process, and FAQs. The home section also displays a real-time count down to the elections.

The update section displays any relevant information from the Electoral Commission (EC). The app sources all its information or data from the EC.

The locator section helps you determine where you have to vote from. On clicking this option, it directly takes you to the Electoral Commission’s Voter Locator. It then prompts you to enter your Voter Number or Application ID or National ID Number (NIN) to determine where to vote from. You can search for your voter location using either Voter Numbers OR Voter Details. The voter number is one that prompts you to enter your voter number or application ID of national ID number while voter details prompt you to enter your name, date of birth and district your registered in.

The about section displays the mission & objectives of the app/project, partners, privacy policy, terms & conditions, and imprint.

The Uchaguzi apps are well design, easy to navigate as everything is self-explanatory. The app is swift as long as you have a good and stable internet connection —considering that the app doesn’t weigh much. And finally the presentation is good; the colors, the fonts and the alignment —all well presented and eye-catching.

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