• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Wardchat leverages technology to connect voters across Nigeria

Time to choose: A sobering moment for Nigerians

Wardchat, a Nigerian non-partisan social network connecting voters from the same polling unit, ward, local government and state has been launched in Nigeria.

The platform is structured to provide voters with detailed and updated information about elections in accordance with individual polling units and states.

Kunle Lawal, Country Lead, Wardchat, during the official launch of the app disclosed that it is the World’s first social network purposely built for an electoral community.

“It is an effective and smart social network with custom features built on Nigeria’s electoral structure covering 36 states and the FCT, 774 Local Governments, 8000 wards, and over 176,000 polling units across the nation,” Kunle said.

He explained that wallchart will play in the social media space with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Opera news hub but will only differ in the niche market it would be serving which is the electoral community in Nigeria.

According to him, the platform creates connections by matching users’ electoral profiles thereby helping to foster engagement among voters that lead to better electoral outcomes, targeted audience conversations, and ward-centric conversations.

Kunle said that the realization that every polling unit is a community of voters that needs to connect and interact as voters, irrespective of their residence, informed the development of the app.

Read also:  INEC unveils 1.854m new PVCs, voters begin collection Tuesday

Speaking on the impact of the app on elections, the country lead, disclosed that the platform was created with a long-term vision and not necessarily for the upcoming election.

“We are just happy this is coming at the right time for the 2023 elections for a peek into what the product can potentially become. We do not want to change the way people vote. We want to facilitate and create relationships among voters that will enable them to influence each other and collaborate for more informed electoral choices.

“We believe that developing rapport and trust among voters at the ward level is a critical aspect of persuasion to end voter apathy and unfriendly debates in our electoral space,” Kunle said.

The country lead stated that Wardchat aims to have 7million voters on board on the app in 5 years representing 10 percent of the voting population and also targeting 1 million sign-ups on the platform with over 1.5 million content generated in the run-up to the 2023 election.

He added that Wardchat plans to sign up a sizable number of voters that can use its amazing app features for incidence reporting, election monitoring, voter education, random polling, and political campaigns, at no cost to them and also added plans to deploy a feature that will allow users to report results from their polling units.

Faith Ariori, a member of the Wardchat team explained that while developing the app, the company realized the need to address some of the concerns already prevalent in the social media space, especially on data privacy and protection of users from hate speech and any form of harm.

She noted that the platform also has flags and blocking mechanisms for users who flag abusive posts which are then auto removed from the feed and block users that are considered toxic.

“We also deployed Usernames and not Full names for signups, so users can remain anonymous if they so wish. Phone numbers are also optional. On the spread of fake news and hate speech, built within the app is a newsfeed of respected, trusted, and reputable online and traditional media from where members can share news across wards, states, and local governments on the platform,” Faith said.