Q-KON has the answer to open and fair elections in Africa!

Q-KON has the answer to open and fair elections in Africa!

By Dr Dawie de Wet, CEO of Q-KON Africa

Democracy is important… it boosts economic stability, development of infrastructure and ongoing socio-economic growth.

The pivot point for a national democracy is the general public election process during which open and fair votes should be casted to determine the people’s choices for who and how their country must be governed. A successful public election process requires strong supply, logistics and organizational capabilities; but most importantly a significant expense budget.

Apart from all the general aspects and the expenses involved in an election project, the key factor for “fairness” is the transparency of voting results and the time delay from election day until the moment of publishing the results. General elections that allow international media and organisations to monitor the process in real-time, and which enable remote regional results to be collected quickly, provides a strong basis for credibility and trust.

The vast geographical territories of some African countries create a huge challenge to execute the required logistics and to enable reliable communications for collecting results from remote polling stations. The need for better communication infrastructure is becoming the de facto anchor point for the execution of trusted and credible general elections.

Although the ubiquitous communication coverage of a satellite network is a great advantage in providing secure and reliable communication, typical satellite networks have some inherent constraints for these applications. “Normal” satellite networks require investment in the core teleport and hub infrastructure as well as time-consuming field engineering to install remote satellite terminals at all the designated polling stations.

Remote field installations need to make provision for solar power systems and telephony communication within the election project team as well as to other external third parties. The logistics is a huge challenge where remote satellite terminals with necessary infrastructures are deployed before election day, and therefore cause security risks because election staff only arrive on the actual election day.

All of these factors are driving the need for a specialised satellite network solution.

Q-KON and a few of its technology partners in Africa have developed a satellite network architecture that offers an optimum solution for national elections. This solution, designed specifically for national elections, had to offer ever-present, reliable communications with minimum deployment implications.

We are proud to announce the availability of the Q-KON satellite network solution which addresses the following specific constraints in an elegant and cost-effective way:

Field deployment

The solution is based on “man-pack” satellite antenna combinations and can be deployed with ease by the election team just before election day. The satellite equipment is self-contained and doesn’t require specific logistics and delivery of the equipment.

Turn-key Remote System

The field terminal is a complete turn-key system that includes solar power option, voice telephony equipment, Wi-Fi access services for approved devices and voter scanning equipment. The system enables deployment of a voting station at any public location within 3 hours.

Central Satellite Teleport

The central satellite teleport and hub equipment is packaged in a standard communications container, which includes all communication equipment as well as the central satellite hub antenna. The complete teleport can be sent by air-freight and deployed within 4 days by a specialised engineering team. The engineering team will maintain and monitor the communications network for the duration of the election process.

Space Segment Costs

The rapid deployment activation scenario for this type of election communication network also has a very special requirement, which is to provide satellite services only for the duration of the project. Normally space segment services are contracted over 12 or 24 month cycles which are not the optimum scenario for an election project. Q-KON has, together with its principle technology providers, defined a structure, which enables governments to greatly reduce the communication costs and only contracts for capacity required over the duration of the project.

By harnessing satellite technology in this specific way Q-KON has eliminated some specific constraints inherent in current general election models, and can implement satellite communications faster and at lower cost points.

We believe this solution will contribute towards the execution of OPEN and FAIR elections in the emerging Africa political landscape.

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