About the project
Elections involve increased risks of the spread of COVID-19, with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) highlighting more than 40 stages where people assemble, or objects are transferred during the electoral cycle.
Despite these risks, several elections have already taken place in Africa during the pandemic. More are scheduled to take place in the remainder of 2021 and, with the slow pace of vaccine rollout on the African continent, it seems likely that elections will also be conducted in the context of COVID-19 until at least 2022.
Reducing the risks of increased transmission during these elections is paramount, particularly as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently declared that the pandemic is accelerating on the continent.
By following three national elections (in Tanzania, Ghana and the Central African Republic) from beginning to end, and by-elections (in Kenya), we look closely at each stage of the electoral process and how the risks of COVID-19 transmission have been mitigated (if at all). We also chart the extent to which holding elections has had a demonstrable effect on infection rates. Secondly, we assess whether and how the pandemic affects political participation.
We evaluate whether the ability of any social (including gendered) groups or geographic populations to engage in the political process is reduced, either unintentionally or deliberately. These public health and governance foci allow us to produce detailed, evidence-based, and context-specific recommendations that can be applied to upcoming African elections. The findings are also valuable to all other low and middle-income countries (LMICs) that are due to hold elections.
This project is funded by UK Research and Innovation through the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund. Press release: UK Government to fund international Covid-19 studies in Scotland.
Africa Research Group, Africa Directorate, The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)