In an apparent first, the African nation of Sierra Leone has employed Blockchain technology in tallying its presidential elections, according to Agora CEO Leonardo Gammar March 7.
Agora is the Swiss-based Blockchain voting technology company which participated in tallying Sierra Leone’s presidential election results yesterday. Jason Lukasiewicz, the COO of Agora, told Cointelegraph that this is the “first time in history a Blockchain has been used in any government election, ever.”
Gammar sent a message to Agora’s Telegram group earlier today stating that the Agora team is “engaged in Sierra Leone’s presidential elections,” and that they are currently located in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, to assist their Blockchain node operators in auditing the election results. In a message to Cointelegraph, Gammar noted that he and his team “haven’t slept for 2 days.”
Gammar said in the Telegram group chat that throughout the elections, Agora partnered with the European Commission, and has helped the Blockchain node operators who come from the Red Cross, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and the University of Fribourg.
This presidential election is the fourth since the end of the country’s civil war in 2002. 16 candidates participated in the election, contributing to the likelihood of a second round of voting as it will be very difficult for any single candidate to win the required 55 percent of the vote.
Gammar wrote in the Telegram group at 1:56 am GMT that the team was “proud to announce that our results in the western district are 2 hours ahead of the National Election Commission and all NGOs, with 86% tallied.”
Lukasiewicz said that Agora’s Blockchain voting technology worked successfully in the Sierra Leone election, as they have “already tallied the votes days before the official commission.”
When asked about how Agora became involved in the Sierra Leone election, Lukasiewicz told Cointelegraph that the Sierra Leone government wanted to use Blockchain in order to “increase the transparency of their elections.” According to Lukasiewicz, Agora offers the “only fully-transparent and unforgeable voting system in existence.”
The aftermath of the election yesterday highlights some of the problems that the public and the government have with trusting the legitimacy of elections in Sierra Leone.
After voting closed, the opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) reported that government authorities visited their offices, leading to violent protests that resulted in one person being stabbed and the riot police being called.
The SLPP Candidate, Julius Maada Bio, said afterwards that he was using phones and laptops to check the results of the counting:
“I have established a tallying center in my office which is not against the law of this country. This is a legitimate affair.”
While the Blockchain technology behind cryptocurrencies could bolster confidence in the legitimacy of elections, cryptocurrency itself has been helping African citizensfree themselves from financial repression.
Traditional money markets require a certain level of knowledge and access to invest, while cryptocurrencies are available to any willing investor through a variety of mobile applications, making digital assets more appealing to young Africans.