IDEA and AU Organise a Workshop in Accra April 2009

28 May 2009

The facilitation team was composed of Nicolas Garrigue (France), Consultant, Alexandra Hovelacque (France), Consultant, and Dieudonne; Tshiyoyo (DR Congo), EISA.

The workshop was opened by the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana William Williams.

International IDEA’s project “Capacity-Building Training of Election Administrators in Africa” is a regional training project for election administrators held in partnership with the African Union and is designed to increase the skills and professionalism of election management bodies (EMB) in the region. The project is part of IDEA’s collaboration with the African Union. IDEA and the African Union (AU) entered into a MOU at the beginning of 2007. It was agreed in the MOU that IDEA and the AU would develop a Joint Activity Plan (JAP). To achieve the project objectives, a series of BRIDGE election administration training workshops are designed and implemented to build the capacity of participating EMB personnel in two areas: (i) firstly, to enhance their professional development as election administrators and (ii) secondly, to transfer skills to be able to design, organise and run BRIDGE in their home organisations.

The BRIDGE Professional Enhancement Workshop that took place in Accra from 20 – 24 March 2009 related to the first area. This 5-day workshop was designed for senior EMB personnel covering technical issues of election administration as well as issues specific to senior managers such as strategic planning, leadership, electoral dispute resolution and organisational culture. This workshop the same as the BRIDGE workshop held in Accra in March 2009, and an earlier one held in Pretoria in February 2009, for groups of African EMB representatives from Anglophone African countries. The workshop sought to achieve the following five objectives with the participating EMB representatives:

  1. Analyse global trends in election management practices and processes
  2. Build professional networks amongst participants
  3. Enhance leadership competencies in sustainable election management
  4. Introduce BRIDGE as a capacity enhancing tool
  5. Introduce the AU DEAU as an important aspect of continental elections work

In addition participants made a field trip to visit the Elections Commission of Ghana.

BRIDGE participants on a field trip to the Electroal Commission of Ghana.

Photo: Nicolas Garrigue


The Professional Enhancement Workshop was designed for EMB commissioners and senior staff from French-speaking African countries. These categories were represented as follows in the Accra workshop, covering 10 African countries:- 7 EMB Commissioners (Cape Verde, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Comoros) – 11 senior EMB staff (including 2 French-speaking Ghanaians from the EC Ghana).


Participants at the French  5-day Professional Development Workshop in Accra, Ghana. 20-24 April 2009.

Photo: Nicolas Garrigue 


As part of this workshop, and in order to promote networking among the EMBs represented in the workshop, each of them was asked to make a short presentation on the particular challenges they faced in organizing elections in their country.

The main common challenges faced by the EMBs participating in the workshop were:

  • Voter’ List: difficulty to produce a reliable list and to maintain it up-to-date. Several countries were also involved in modernization process (switching to biometric systems) which is costly and difficult to implement.
  • Funding: elections are costly, especially in post-crisis countries such as DRC, Burundi and Ivory Coast. Governments usually finance only a minor portion of the electoral budget while the bulk is provided by donors (UNDP chief among them) who have specific disbursement and procurement rules and do not always honour their commitments.
  • Fighting against voter apathy: several EMBs would like to be able to develop and conduct permanent civic education programs but they lack often adequate human resources and funding.
  • Institution-building: a number of countries present have seen their EMB’s institutional set-up change several times over the last decade or a complete change of the EMB’s members (temporary appointments). This brings about a severe loss of institutional memory and difficulties in rebuilding institutions that are often supposed to conduct elections within short time-spans (e.g. Ivory Coast Burundi, Mali).
  • Logistics/Transport: in Ivory Coast, Ghana and DRC
  • Relations with political parties.

On the last day, as part of the session held on Professional Development, each EMB team was asked to draw up the outline of a professional development plan that would answer the EMB’s priorities and objectives for the next year.

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