The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and the African Union, with funding from AusAid, conducted a BRIDGE Professional Enhancement Workshop for 23 participants from 10 African countries in Accra from 9 to 13th March 2009. Participants attending came from Liberia, The Gambia,Sierra Leone, Zanzibar, Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Bénin, and Senegal. The facilitation team was composed of Theophilus Dowetin, Head of IDEA Accra Office, Nicolas Garrigue Consultant and Philomena Edusei, Deputy District Director for the Elections Commission of Ghana.
In Pretoria, South Africa, from 2 - 6 February 2009, 22 senior election administrators from 9 Election Management Bodies in East and Southern Africa; Botswana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe are taking part in a 5-day BRIDGE professional development training workshop covering technical issues of election administration such as strategic planning, leadership, stakeholder relations, electoral dispute resolution and the electoral cycle. The technical training workshop is designed to enhance skills and knowledge in these areas and is intended as professional development training for participating election administrators.
CNE Angola and IFES hold BRIDGE training on Logistics.
Chiefs of Logistics departments from each of Angola's 18 provinces, joined headquarters staff and commissioners in the scenic town of Sumbe, in West-Central Angola to take part in a three-day BRIDGE seminar. The National Election Commission, known by its Portuguese acronym CNE, hosted the seminar in cooperation with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems(IFES).
Introduction and Background
In July 2007, Gorée Institute became the ACE project's Regional Electoral Resource Centre for West Africa. Its main duty was to promote the ACE Knowledge Network within the region and seek for opportunities to build the capacities of election's stakeholders. As the ACE project was being implemented in the region and the collaboration between International IDEA and Gorée Institute was strengthened, the necessity to link up BRIDGE and ACE appeared to be paramount.
From March 11 to 21, 2009 a BRIDGE workshop was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. This 10-day training targeted the political parties of Burkina Faso in addition to EMBs from Guinea-Bissau and Benin. The CENI (Independent National Electoral Commission) of Burkina Faso organized this BRIDGE with the support of UNDP. Mr. Moussa Michel Tapsoba, the President of the CENI headed both the opening and closing sessions of the workshop.
In 2005, a group of donors formed a basket fund project with the objective of supporting a free, open and accountable political system of governance and the consolidation of democracy in Ethiopia through the organization of the national and local elections, in accordance with The Constitution. The project assisted the Government and the NEBE with the conduct and overall management of the electoral process in 2005 and 2008 in cooperation with a wide range of national stakeholders including CSOs, political parties and media.
The mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho ran its first BRIDGE course in July 2008. With a population of around 2 million, Lesotho was the first country to adopt a mixed member proportional system in Africa. This electoral system and its seat calculation was the source of an extended dispute settled by the courts just before the BRIDGE course began. With the Electoral Commission being central to the disputed results, this was a hot topic during the BRIDGE course that was held in Teyateyaneng’s Blue Mountain Inn, just an hour’s drive outside the capital of Maseru.
I watched my bag being lifted over the edge of the ferry into waiting hands, praying that it would not drop into the harbour waters below. For eight days I was resident on the famous Gorée Island, just 1 km and a 30 minute ferry ride off the Dakar coastline in Senegal. For about seven days the small population of Gorée was boosted by 26 participants from ACE regional centres. The regional centres are located in geographically strategic places around the world, acting as regional hubs collecting and processing election-related information.
In a move to become more financially independent from the government and to build trust with stakeholders, the National Elections Commission of Liberia and IFES held an Electoral Democracy Training Conference with key stakeholders using the Bridge Curriculum.
Running training in a shopping mall proved to be a good decision. The accommodation venue in Gaborone was filled to capacity and the option was to run the course in a marquee tent. Having been in a similar situation before, we opted for the mall. This was to be the first time a BRIDGE course was to be run in Botswana.
In Pretoria, South Africa on 3 to 14 March 2008, IDEA in partnership with the South Africa Electoral Commission (IEC) held a 10 day BRIDGE Train the Facilitator Course.
Zomba, 11th February 2008 â€“ The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), with support from UNDP Malawi, are training the third group of secretariat staff at Hotel Masongola in Zomba, Malawi from 11th to 15th February 2008.
The International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) in conjunction with the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), conducted a BRIDGE training session with 6 newly appointed Election Commissioners.
The Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) hosted a BRIDGE course for the different organisations in its network in mid-January 2008. 36 participants from all over Zimbabwe joined together in Nyanga, in the eastern highlands of the country, to attend training in Public Outreach and Electoral Observation from 14 to 18 January. The setting could easily have been confused with Scotland rather than Zimbabwe, with trout fishing and a golf course set amongst forests and rolling mountains and a constant chill and misty days.
In the middle of the November spring rains in South Africa participants from southern and east African countries joined the first Implementation Workshop for BRIDGE to be held on the African continent. The 3-day Implementation Workshop is based on the BRIDGE Implementation Manual and aims to guide individuals and organisations responsible for designing and setting up training courses that use material taken from the BRIDGE Project curriculum.
International IDEA, IFES, and The National Elections Commission (NEC) of Liberia collaborated to bring BRIDGE training (Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections) to the Commission's staff from June 11 to 22, 2007. The training marks the first time that BRIDGE has been conducted in post-conflict Liberia, and exemplifies strong collaboration in the recently - expanded BRIDGE partnership.
In Pretoria, South Africa, from 20 November to 1 December 2006, International IDEA and the Electoral Commission of South Africa trained election administrators from Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zanzibar.
In November 2005, Angola 2000 was appointed the umbrella organization for the Plataforma Nacional da Sociedade Civil Angolana para as Elieções (PNASCAE), a permanent body composed of civil society organisations involved in electoral processes. In December 2005, the President of the PNASCAE and Director of Angola 2000 requested SaferAfrica’s technical and financial assistance for capacity building of members of the PNASCAE. Angola 2000 and SaferAfrica have a Memorandum of Understanding that covers cooperation in the field of peace, security and good governance. SaferAfrica agreed to provide financial and technical assistance to the PNASCAE and to assist in the fundraising for the additional training.
The first BRIDGE training workshop for election-related civil society organisations was held March 6 - 17, 2006 at SaferAfrica, 173 Beckett Street Arcadia in Pretoria, South Africa. This was aimed at building the enabling capacity of the Plataforma Electoral Angolana [This is a coalition of Angola-based civil society organisation involved in the electoral process in Angola] to play an effective role in the electoral process in Angola. To achieve this aim, the training focused on selected components of the BRIDGE modules. The training was conducted in both English and Portuguese. This ABRIDGE workshop was funded and coordinated by SaferAfrica[SaferAfrica (www.saferafrica.org) is an independent, professional, non-profit association which assists in the development of responsible and self-reliant good governance structures in the South in peace and security] based in South Africa. The training was facilitated by Theophilus Dowetin with Kenneth Mpyisi as co-facilitator.
A BRIDGE (Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections) training course in English was held in Accra, Ghana from December 1 - 9, 2005 for newly recruited District Electoral Officers of the Electoral Commission of Ghana. The Commission is scheduled to conduct nationwide Local Government Elections in 2006.
September 2004 saw the first francophone Train the Facilitator run in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. It was organised by the Centre for Democratic Governance (CDG) in Burkina Faso with the assistance of International IDEA and the UNDP, and facilitated by Maria Helena Alves, Haoua Bissiri and Alexandra Hovelacque, with CDG Director Augustin Loada and the invaluable assistance of CDG staff. This is the conclusion from the report on the session:
Ghana welcomed BRIDGE in August 2005 when a Train the Facilitator (TtF) course was held in Accra, the first TtF run in West Africa. This course was co-organised by IDEA and the Association of African Election Authorities (AAEA) and trained 26 participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Liberia, Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) Ghana and the West African Network for Peace building (WANEP). These facilitators are now accredited to provide electoral management training in the region.
Over the last 15 years Electoral assistance providers have gradually begun to recognize that the building of a strong and stable electoral administration capacity in-country is more important than providing ad hoc electoral assistance from outside. One of the central components of IDEA's work in supporting capacity building of election management bodies in Africa is through the use of our BRIDGE Electoral Administrators Training Course.