Mozambique Municipal & National Elections

Two-thirds of the 30.3 million Mozambicans live in rural areas with limited infrastructure or access to basic services. Before 2018, they faced tremendous logistical challenges that made it very difficult for them to register to vote. Travelling great distances to get to registration stations, and then repeating the journey to vote,  was both costly and time-consuming.

With municipal elections planned for 2018, and presidential elections for 2019, Mozambique’s government needed to upgrade its existing biometric voter registration and verification technology to meet internationally accepted standards.

To reach those in remote areas, the National Elections Commission also identified the need for a reliable mobile biometric solution to create a secure and inclusive Voter’s Roll.

“In only eight weeks, our technical and implementation team managed to register more than 6.8 million people to vote in Municipal Elections. We supported the creation of the most comprehensive Voter's Roll in Mozambique's history."
Lyle Charles Laxton
CEO, Laxton

The project goals are set

With the Municipal Elections scheduled for the 10th of October 2018, Laxton deployed a team of specialists to Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, in December 2017 to assess the existing citizen and biometric registration infrastructure.

By working closely with the STAE (Secretariado Tecnico de Administraçao Eleitoral, Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration), the executive body of the National Elections Commission (CNE), the team was able to map out the technology requirements and an implementation plan from beginning to end.

To enable all eligible voters to register to vote in the Municipal Elections, Laxton was contracted to manufacture and ship 3,900 sets of upgrade equipment to Maputo. These parts would be added to the existing biometric systems to equip them with the latest identity system. Starting immediately, Laxton would also provide technical support, training, and assist with facilitating the use of the Biometric Registration Software solution.

Once registration was concluded, Laxton would oversee data collection and consolidation activities to result in a secure, Central Voter Management System. Cooperation between the STAE, CNE, Laxton and other stakeholders on the ground would be the key to accurately registering close to seven million voters in a short space of time.

The Laxton in-country implementation team was deployed to Mozambique at the end of 2017 to begin preparations for registering voters for the Municipal Elections taking place in October 2018. Part of their mandate was to train a team of local technicians on upgrading and maintaining the 3,900 Biometric Registration and Verification kits used for this project.

Vital skills transfer to local technicians

With the volume of registration kits that needed to be upgraded to the latest in biometric technology, a local Team Manager was employed to recruit technicians and to bridge any language or cultural barriers.

Technicians were selected from the 11 provinces, as this would eventually be their permanent base. Once the final team was put through basic skills assessments, vetted and hired, Laxton’s specialists conducted formal hands-on training. By using registration and verification kits specially delivered for training, the team could document risks and common questions and potential failures. These then served as focus areas during the main equipment upgrade activities.

To conduct an initial assessment phase, 20 sets of upgrade components were used to conduct pilot registration activities. This took place across three provinces to test the technology and refine the registration process before the main activities in October.

The upgrade of this initial set of registration kits also served as a valuable learning and training session for technicians, who could optimise the procedure and finalise the technical checklist. Laxton’s proposed solution was successfully piloted, a big step towards a fast, smooth registration process on the day.

Laxton's logistics network springs into action

The components and materials required for the Biometric Registration Kits (BRKs) arrived via road, sea, and air freight, resulting in close to 30 separate deliveries. While local workers were employed to repackage the equipment in every province, the process was overseen and executed by Laxton staff and technicians in parallel across Mozambique.

Having already piloted the exercise on a small scale, the upgrade activities ran quickly and smoothly. To assist the new technicians, several simple instructional videos were made available to provide a visual reference and explanation for their pending tasks.

Laxton technical specialists trained a group of technicians from across Mozambique to upgrade and maintain the Biometric Registration and Verification kits. With the extensive training received, these technicians can provide technical support for as long as the equipment is in use within the government and private sectors.

Creating critical network infrastructure

To optimise the data collection process at registration, Laxton set up a temporary network infrastructure for technicians to license and prepare the new identity systems. This infrastructure also enabled technicians to deploy the latest software updates directly over the network.

Laxton later set up a permanent network infrastructure to give the country a digital identity infrastructure across provincial and central government departments. STAE servers received software and hardware upgrades which unlocked their full potential and extended their usable lifetime, a major value-add for the client.

These upgrades would also be beneficial for the Presidential elections scheduled for 2019, with larger volumes of information expected. Mozambique’s government now had the network capacity and infrastructure needed to begin lasting digital identity transformation across the entire country.

Provincial voter registration runs smoothly

Voter registration commenced in all provinces, as scheduled, on the 19th of March 2018. While the goal was to register ten million voters, the final number of registrations was close to seven million, an acceptable number for the CNE.

Laxton played a pivotal role in ensuring a smooth operation, with technical support given from provincial offices and the support centre in Maputo. The team was also on hand to oversee the activities at various registration stations and troubleshoot any issues immediately.

Once the registration process was completed, the data was extracted from all the technology systems and transferred to the Provincial consolidation centres. These servers were equipped with a suite of tools to monitor the progress and to provide real-time reports of all the information received. Specialised software identified any discrepancies between manually recorded numbers and actual data found on the server.

A pre-agreed process was followed by the Electoral Commission to resolve duplicate registrations. The result was a provincial and central database containing all registered voters and a voter list that closely matched the original STAE figures. For the first time, Mozambique’s Municipal Voter’s Roll met global industry standards.

From one election to the next

With successful municipal elections completed, Laxton immediately moved on to the planning for the 2019 General Elections voter registration. With the initial groundwork already laid, the new project included further software enhancements, the provision of 1,000 Upgrade Sets, 300 new Laptops, 600 Laptop batteries, and 3,000 new Biometric Registration Kits (BRKs).

As part of a full-service offering, we also procured and delivered the consumables required to issue a Voter ID. This meant voters were able to receive a verified voter ID to present on election day as proof of registration and quick identification on the printed voters’ roll.

The planning and preparation for this national voter registration drive followed a similar process to the municipal registration project. But this time, operational activities and the team was more than doubled, with more technicians and senior staff members recruited to oversee the entire process.

Technicians receive training at Laxton facilities

To fast-track technician training and to guarantee that voting would not be interrupted by technical delays, a group of STAE technicians travelled to Laxton’s facilities in Asia, to receive training on the upgrade, maintenance, and repairs of the customised biometric equipment and components.

A management team from STAE also travelled to the facility to finalise the strategy and coordination for the final stage of the project. A visit to the Laxton production facility also gave STAE a clear view of Laxton’s capacity to design, manufacture, and test various Civil Registration oriented solutions and products.

Local technicians received training on the Biometric Registration Kits throughout the duration of the project. They are now able to provide technical support and maintenance services to any government departments using the kits going forward.

Voters register for the General Elections

With all systems in place and more than 20,000 STAE personnel on the ground fulfilling a multitude of roles, voter registration for the 2019 general elections started on the 15th of April. The user-friendly technology and an efficient registration process saw the highest number of registrations in Mozambique’s history. More than 91% of eligible voters successfully registered to vote.

Mozambique’s citizens could register to vote where they lived. No matter how rural or limited the infrastructure, the Laxton system customised for this task ensured quick, uninterrupted biometric registration and print verified Voter ID cards.

“Despite a short lead time and some noteworthy challenges, the Laxton team across the globe pulled together to implement the most successful voter registration in Mozambique to date,” says Nick Perkins, Laxton President for Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA).

“It has cemented our footprint in this part of Africa and paves the way for many more successful digital identity transformation initiatives in the future.”