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AI & technology isn’t remedy for voter apathy-Afrobarometer Director

AI & technology isn’t remedy for voter apathy -Afrobarometer Director

The Director of Surveys at Afrobarometer, Boniface Dulani says  Artificial intelligence (AI) and technology can help address voter apathy, especially among African youth, but cannot take the place of substantive policy solutions.

The director made this known at the International Poitical Campaigns Expo(IPE) maiden edition in Cape Town, South Africa.

According to him, While AI and technology provide opportunities for greater engagement with voters, it’s not a panacea to all the problems related to voter apathy, particularly among the

Mr. Dulani expressed concern about the low rate of political participation by African youth.

He urged political parties to leverage technology and AI to engage them, considering the
youth’s heavy reliance on technology, hence, the need to address the underlying issues that matter most to young people.

Afrobarometer data show that unemployment tops the list of the most important problems that African youth want their government to address, stating that, young Africans are considerably more likely than their elders to be out of work and looking for a job.

“They are more likely than
older cohorts to see state institutions and leaders as corrupt and to mistrust them”. it stated.

The data further shows that 56% of the youth between the ages of 18-35 years are also more willing to tolerate a military takeover of the government if elected leaders abuse their power than the older (47%) aged 56 and above.

“Simply reaching out through technology is not sufficient,” Mr. Dulani stressed.

He therefore advised political actors to actively tackle the root causes of youth apathy.

Also, the Afrobarometer co-founder and senior adviser,
Robert Mattes outlined some concerns about dissatisfaction eroding political party support at a separate panel discussion within the Expo.

He emphasised on the impact of face-to-face interactions in political campaigns but
debunked the misconception that gifts significantly influence voter turnout.

“Let’s remember that the research literature suggests that face-to-face contacts have a far greater impact than other forms of voter engagement,” he said.

“Canvassing matters makes voters even more likely to vote as well as campaign rallies that also matter. But, in contrast to common wisdom, giving gifts does not seem to have any significant impact on voter turnout.” he added.

The International Political Campaigns Expo featured a line-up of speakers with a diverse
range of perspectives and expertise, showcasing a shared commitment to effective
political campaigns that promote sustainable development across the continent.

The IPE brought together political leaders, political scientists, campaign strategists, AI experts, and technology innovators to explore the transformative potential of AI and Big Data for political campaigns and voter engagement in Africa.

Source: Eric Nii Sackey

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