Sierra Leone Becomes the First Country to Hold a Blockchain-Powered Presidential Election

Blockchain technology was used to verify the recent results of Sierra Leone's presidential race, the first time this was done to oversee a national election.
Sibel Nicholson

West African nation Sierra Leone has employed Blockchain technology to verify its presidential election data. This was the first time Blockchain has been implemented in a governmental election and the first results have started coming in.

Swiss-based Blockchain voting technology company Agora has been overseeing the project. Agora has started publishing what appears to be the earliest results for the Sierra Leone election.

After the voting stopped on Wednesday, up to 400,000 ballots were manually entered into Agora's blockchain system by 280 accredited observers working in just as many locations.


At the moment, the exact number of votes for each candidate have not been revealed to the public but just the percentages. Agora says this was the first time blockchain technology was used in a presidential election and it plans to make the results open to audit in a public format in the following days.

Throughout the elections, Agora partnered with the European Commission, and has helped the Blockchain node operators coming from the Red Cross, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and the University of Fribourg.

This is the fourth presidential election since the end of Sierra Leone’s civil war in 2002. 16 candidates participated in the election. It is seen as likely that there will be a second round of voting as it looks very difficult for any single candidate to win the required 55 percent of the vote.

Increasing transparency

Agora has said that its blockchain voting technology worked successfully in the Sierra Leone election, with the company being able to tally the votes days before the official commission.

It also said that the Sierra Leone government wanted to use Blockchain to increase the transparency of their elections. The events which occurred after the election yesterday showed some of the problems that the public and the government have in terms of trusting the legitimacy of elections in Sierra Leone.

The opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) reported after the voting closed that the government authorities visited their offices. This led to violent protests which resulted in one person being stabbed and the riot police being called. The SLPP Candidate, Julius Maada Bio said that he was using phones and laptops to check the results of the counting.

Cryptocurrencies popular in Africa

It is thought that that blockchain technology behind cryptocurrencies could inspire confidence in the legitimacy of elections. On the other hand, digital assets have in the recent years become very appealing to young Africans. Cryptocurrencies can become available to any investor through different mobile applications.

However, traditional money markets would need a certain level of knowledge and access to invest. This would explain why cryptocurrencies would be so popular in African nations.

In the past, other countries have also used blockchain technology to make sure that digital elections were conducted in a safe way.

In 2014, the Danish political party Liberal Alliance used the blockchain for its inner party elections. Also in 2017, a team of American politicians established a Congressional Blockchain Caucus to rally for blockchain-related causes, which included election security.