Uganda will improve general election transparency using biometric technology
On February 18th Uganda’s general elections will take place. The Electoral Commission of Uganda is partnering with Smartmatic, a leading electronic voting technology company, to use a biometric voter authentication technology solution that validates the identity of voters prior to ballot casting.
Smartmatic has developed a central system to store and manage the biographic and biometric information of all registered voters. This system, which will be synchronized with Uganda’s National ID database, will perform quality control and integrity checks, and will convert all the data into a format that can be used to process votes with accuracy and speed when the election takes place.
Sam Rwakoojo, Secretary of the Uganda Electoral Commission said: “Voter identity management is a critical task in any election. Thanks to this partnership we will provide our field operators with the technology, services and know-how necessary to guarantee a successful transparent election. By validating the identity of each voter via biometrics with accuracy and speed, we will ensure the principle of ‘one voter – one vote’ in Uganda.”
Smartmatic will also supply and configure all hardware and software to run the verification platform with some 30,500 biometric devices being deployed across 30,000 polling stations. In addition, equipment warehousing, maintenance and dispatch, project management and election training is being provided to poll workers and election officials.
Dr Khodr Akil, Smartmatic’s Vice President for Sales, Africa said: “We welcome opportunities like this to put our experience and the work of our Research & Development labs into action. Biometrics is an extremely efficient tool to improve election transparency and facilitate polling station management. With just ten days to go until the elections, we are proud to be helping Uganda take this step forward.”
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Nybl: Saudi Startup to Expand AI Solutions
According to co-founder Nour Alnahhas, nybl was formed for the greater good. A visual data mining and machine learning platform, the platform will help organisations streamline their operations. ‘We wanted to centralise our vision around AI and machine learning’, said Alnahhas. ‘Something not just for profit, but added value. Conscious capitalism’.
Nybl aims to democratise artificial intelligence by making it possible for anyone to build an AI solution. What website builders like Wix and Squarespace did for site design, nybl will do for AI—allowing even non-coders to feel comfortable creating solutions. In fact, Alnahhas calls it a ‘Shopify of AI’, or a third-party platform that helps businesses deliver better service.
With hubs in Kuwait, the UAE, North America, and India, nybl is focused on launching operations in Saudi Arabia, Alnahhas’s home country. When the company first launched, it was difficult to convince Saudi Arabian businesses to work with a startup. Yet now, nybl has proven itself. ‘We had support in the UAE, so now we’re coming back’, said Alnahhas.
Alnahhas has launched a pilot with Saudi Aramco and has slowly built partnerships with paper, heating, HVAC air conditioning, and manufacturing companies. In addition, the Saudi government has started to invest in the Kingdom’s National Strategy for Data and AI, which means that nbyl, as a tech startup, has finally gained credibility.
No War for Talent
One of the most critical parts of nybl’s expansion will be hiring the right individuals. Thankfully, there’s a current surplus of talented researchers, developers, and data scientists within the Kingdom. Like nybl’s Alnahhas—educated at the University of Houston, the Wharton School of Business, and INSEAD— many Saudi Arabians have benefited from government-sponsored education abroad.
Last year, Saudi Arabia signed several partnerships with tech firms to advance the Kingdom’s skills in artificial intelligence. ‘It’s exciting to be in Saudi Arabia where there’s alignment and support’, Alnahhas concluded. ‘You’re getting an increasing talent pool. And even old and big family conglomerates are finally changing to use AI’.