A United States-based Information Technology (I.T) consultant, Dr Evans Sarfo-Adu has chided Ghana’s Electoral Commission I.T department for not responding to concerns of the outfit’s system being compromised in the 2016 elections.
Dr Sarfo-Adu has questioned the IT department of the EC’s failure to run an audit of the EC’s systems at the headquarters and all regional centres.
Speaking in an interview with Adom FM’s morning show host, Chief Jerry Forson, Dr Sarfo-Adu said even though the EC was well equipped in electoral issues, it has lost focus with some basics in IT and the transmission of genuine electoral data, all because the electoral institution lacked knowledge in that regard.
Dr Sarfo-Adu’s interview was on the back of a letter he had written to the EC Chair, Jean Mensa in which he sought an update on the current state of EC information technology (IT) systems since the 2016 elections ‘hacking’ issues.
He noted, as part of his submission on the show that even though I.T. systems were more technical than political, when the referees are clueless, political actors can take advantage to win election.
“Elections can still go on without I.T. systems but if electoral bodies decide to rely on I.T., the systems deployed must be tried and tested. It is obvious the EC lacks I.T. knowledge and if the right measures are not put in place, the credibility of the elections may be questioned,” he observed.
As an expert, he recommended the use of top-rated and renowned I.T. vendors that invoke confidence in the consumer and a system that can track the entire electoral process.
Dr Sarfo-Adu’s letter to the EC was dated April 2019 but according to him, he is yet to get any response from the EC.
Watch video above for aspects of the interview Dr Sarfo Adu had with Chief Jerry Forson on Dwaso Nsem.
Below is also his letter written to the EC Chair:
ELECTORAL COMMISION (EC) GHANA
April 29, 2019
Dear Madam Jean Mensah,
CURRENT STATE OF EC INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT) SYSTEMS SINCE THE 2016 ELECTIONS HACKING INCIDENT
First of all, I wish to start by congratulating you and your entire staff at the EC for all the hard work since you took office.
Your predecessor, Mrs. Charlotte Osei successfully handed over a Democratic Presidency to President Nana Addo Dankwah Akuffo Addo in Ghana from President John Dramani Mahama in 2016 albeit with reservations. According to her “Our IT Systems were hacked during the collation of electoral votes hence the delay” whilst announcing the results of the polls.
Madam Commissioner, when you took office, Myself and many well-meaning Ghanaians thought the issue was a big item on your agenda and, as Head of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, you would run with it! But listening to your recent lecture on the refurbishment of the Biometric Systems at the last IPAC meeting, I was not impressed. I agree this issue is classically a pure example of serious IT business and the issues may be arcane even to technical people, and in the name of service to God and Country we all need to help you succeed.
You would recall that in the early days of 2017, when the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) took office, there were grapevine stories in Ghanaian circles that Mr. Joe Anokye, a NASA USA trained Telecom Expert was brought down from the USA purposely to aid the NPP hack elections 2020 in favour of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). President Akuffo Addo would go ahead and appoint Mr. Joe Anokye as the Chief Executive of the National Communication Authority (NCA), the State Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications and Information Systems. The fact that Mr. Joe Anokye has never publicly denied his supposedly achievement, as nefarious as it were for aiding the hacking of our electoral systems for the NPP including the integrity of the National Communication Infrastructure he now governs turns my antennae up. To say the least, posterity will interrogate the ethics, morals and policy implications because the perception and optics do not look good.
Thirty four months on, and from the foregoing, I write to you in my capacity as a responsible citizen of Ghana and humbly request your high office to provide answers to the following issues of concern, with regards to IT Governance at your outfit as the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections beckon.
The key issues of concern that I wish would be addressed include;
- IT Audit of the Electoral Commission’s Systems at the Headquarters and all Regional Centers.
- What is the Current State of the EC’s Biometric Systems Refurbishing and what is involved ie. Data Center, Disaster Recovery Plans, Storage Area Networks and Back Ups (SANs) of the EC’s Network Infrastructure.
- How does an anotated Visio representation/ design of the EC Network architecture including the newly created regions of Ghana look like in its current state?
- Policy implications as far as Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with Ghanaian Telcos as far as Quality of Service (QoS), Network Availability, Integrity and Security given the cascading effects of the 2016 electoral Hacking. Any punitive measures?
- Possible Areas of participation, collaboration, coordination with Expert Groups on EC Networks for stakeholders.
- What underlying technologies were procured for the EC’s Database Systems? Proprietary or Open Ware? What informed the decisions and the policy implications?
- In today’s Information Age (Knowledge Age) where does the IT Department of the EC sit in the organogram of the EC given IT governance plays a pivotal role in any organization.
- What are the Capacity Building plans and measures put in place given the lessons learned from the 2016 Hacking?
- What is the Compliance Framework put in place at the EC as far as the management and governance of the important IT Infrastructure of the EC.
I should be grateful if your outfit would address the above and educate the general public in the name of good governance even as we all strive to ensure the integrity and confidence in the electoral systems of Ghana.
Senior IT Consultant