Information Systems Assessment, Ghana National Electoral Commission
All objectives stated by the Ghana National Electoral Commission (NEC) in their request to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Ghana, can be met with appropriate technology. Achieving all objectives will require time, and may require resources beyond those provided by USAID. It takes time to develop staff skills, deploy equipment, develop applications, and establish telecommunications. In particular, it is not reasonable to expect to automate voter registration and voting at district or constituency level in one year. However, it is possible to achieve important objectives in 2000 while preparing to meet other objectives in 2001 or 2002. The NEC has a mature data center capable of expansion. The data center does not have adequate server or network capacity and has no dedicated Internet connection. NEC regional offices have minimal computer equipment. One or two secretaries in each office have personal computer (PC) skills. Regional offices require only minor improvements before installing new computers. Regional offices will depend on the NEC data center for all technical support and supplies for the foreseeable future. Internet Service Providers are currently limited to major commercial centers (Tema, Accra, Takaradi, and Kumasi). Outside these locations trunk-call dial-up access is the only moderately affordable short-term solution. Intranet development should be divided into at least three phases. Phase I establishes core Intranet capacity and a dedicated Internet connection in the NEC data center. It provides new computer and communications equipment to each regional office, and establishes secure dial-up access to the new NEC Intranet via the closest Internet access point. Regional offices will have access to the Intranet Web site and secure e-mail with the NEC central office. Phase II builds on this foundation, adding voter registration and vote tally modules and improving capacity and connectivity in regional offices. Phase III extends automation to district offices. Phase I is described and specified in detail. The implementation plan calls for completing this phase before the end of August 2000. Procurement and site preparation in regional offices should begin now. Computer-based training materials should be purchased soon to strengthen technical skills in the NEC data center. Total cost, not including training and technical assistance, is estimated at 161,000 USD. Total annual operating costs are estimated to be between 46,000 USD and 88,000 USD. These estimates do not include consumable supplies or depreciation.