IEC opens hi-tech National Results Operating Centre

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 23 May 2024
BCX provides the infrastructure that supports the running of servers and applications at the National Results Operating Centre.
BCX provides the infrastructure that supports the running of servers and applications at the National Results Operating Centre.

The Electoral Commission (IEC) has officially opened the hi-tech National Results Operating Centre (ROC) for the 2024 national and provincial elections.

The ROC is based at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, and will serve as the central hub where political parties, candidates, observers, stakeholders and the media will be stationed from this week, leading up to the day of the national elections. Political parties have been allocated workstations.

South Africans will take to the polls on 29 May to elect the leadership of the seventh administration, in what is expected to be the most contested election in the last 30 years.

Described as a digitally-advanced ROC, the building is powered by digital infrastructure, innovative technologies and high-speed WiFi from Telkom subsidiaries BCX and Openserve, among other IT providers.

On the day of the elections, the ROC will serve as themain hub for electoral operations, providing real-time processing and collation of election results, where millions of South Africans will witness the election unfold, according to the IEC.

The centre will provide real-time processing and collation of election results.
The centre will provide real-time processing and collation of election results.

Speaking at the opening of the centre, IEC chairperson Mosotho Moepya noted the ROC stands as a beacon of transparency and accountability, illuminating the path toward a future characterised by free and fair elections.

“It is with great pride and a profound sense of responsibility that I stand before you today, on behalf of the Electoral Commission, to inaugurate the National Results Centre for the 2024 national and provincial elections.

“Each voting station result undergoes rigorous audit authentication before being posted, ensuring accuracy and accountability. The capture and verification of results at each voting station, independent audits and real-time accessibility of data to stakeholders exemplify our commitment to integrity.

“Our rapid response system stands ready to address any discrepancies swiftly and decisively. The acceptability of election results to all contestants is paramount, and we spare no effort in ensuring the integrity of the electoral process,” noted Moepya.

IEC chairperson Mosotho Moepya.
IEC chairperson Mosotho Moepya.

Speaking to ITWeb on the side-lines of the event, BCX CEO Jonas Bogoshi said that over the last year, BCX and Openserve have been upgrading technologies across 400 IEC sites and offices. This includes upgrading connectivity from the traditional Diginet to fibre connectivity, he stated.

BCX supplies the ROC centre with managed infrastructure and cloud services, as well as unified end-user workspace management.

“The company provides infrastructure which supports the running of the servers and applications. We also had to build a good quality network that connects everyone in the centre. We offer connectivity to the media houses and political parties that are here.

“We also provide them with high-quality connectivity for streaming purposes, because many media houses are going to be broadcasting from the centre. We also provide voice solutions for communications purposes.”

Openserve provides 4G/LTE and 5G, WiFi 6, layer-3 networking and high-speed fibre.

From a resilience and business continuity perspective, BCX and Openserve have built the infrastructure to ensure the IT systems can handle worst-case scenario downtime incidents, he added.

“This means that if there is any outage − whether it's an internet connectivity outage or even power failure − our backup systems and business continuity plans will have the ability to quickly kick in.”

BCX CEO Jonas Bogoshi.
BCX CEO Jonas Bogoshi.

Also speaking at the event, IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo noted this year’s election is the most digitised election in SA, to date.

Efficient online processes have enabled the voting and registration of thousands of South Africans who are based abroad, he explained.

“Today, we find ourselves at a pivotal juncture, where the road to these historic elections approaches its final and most critical stages. An important milestone was reached on 18 May, when the first votes in the national and provincial elections 2024 were cast.

“A total of 56 800 votes were cast at 111 foreign missions around the world. Those registered to vote at the London voting station were given an extra day – 19 May – because of the high number of voters registered there.”

In pursuit of inclusivity, the IEC has implemented measures to ensure the voting process is accessible to all South Africans, regardless of physical abilities, he added.

In collaboration with the South African National Council for the Blind, the IEC has developed the universal ballot template, a voting aid designed to empower persons with disabilities and special needs to exercise their democratic right independently and with utmost secrecy.

“On 27 and 28 May, the commission will accept special votes from the 1.7 million South Africans who were approved for this category of votes. The commission will visit 624 593 voters at their homes or places of confinement, and 1 044 000 will be assisted at voting stations where they are registered,”Mamabolo commented.