Stears launches open data product ahead of Nigeria's 2023 elections

Pan-African data and intelligence company, Stears has launched a data product; Stears Elections ahead of Nigeria's 2023 general elections.

Stears launches open data product ahead of Nigeria's 2023 elections
NYSC members during the 2019 general elections. Credit: Commonwealth Secretariat (via Creative Commons)

Pan-African data and intelligence company, Stears has launched a data product; Stears Elections ahead of Nigeria's 2023 general elections.

Nigeria has a National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that oversees and publishes statistics for the country. However, the burden of publishing elections data is left to the organising body—Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Unlike INEC which published the 2015 elections data on a spreadsheet document, the NBS goes further to visualise its own data, turning it into insights which are useful in decision-making.

To solve poor access to inaccurate and rudimentary data Stears built Nigeria's first real-time election database in 2019 which was used by over two million Nigerians, local and international observers to monitor the general elections.

"This first version of Stears Elections was designed to allow voters to find the candidates vying for their votes. With data on candidates from the Presidential elections down to the State Houses of Assembly, we’ve made it possible for users to sign up to monitor specific races. There is no existing product in the market that allows for this granularity," Preston Ideh, Stears CEO, said in a statement shared with Benjamindada.com.

Stears Elections is an open data project designed to organise all of Nigeria's election data. "If all politics is local, then the granularity of Stears Elections matters when filling the information gap. As an organisation with rich data expertise and familiarity visualising large data sets, Stears is uniquely placed to organise election data in a useful, easy-to-consume format," he added.

Stears Elections Credit: Stears

From election observers who want first to objectively monitor election dynamics to the Nigerian electorate —all 94 million of them— Stears Elections is a valuable data & insights tool. With young people making up over 71% of the 12 million newly printed PVCs, there is an unprecedented information gap that Stears Elections will fill.

Stears has taken an additive approach to participate in Nigeria's election, using first-of-its-kind mapping data to visualise voting regions. Among many firsts, Stears is proud to have created the only existing map of constituency boundaries for the House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly. Stears' data & engineering teams deployed complex data processing techniques to make this possible.

"Creating the boundaries for State Houses of Assembly constituencies has proved even more challenging because there is less information from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) about the constituency composition. However, the team is committed to being the first to complete and release this geospatial data set for Nigeria in January,” Hannah Kates, who led this open data effort, said.

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Hannah is an experienced data scientist and product manager, previously responsible for a portfolio of public data explorer tools at the New York City Department of City Planning.

Historically, Nigeria’s voter turnout has been on the low side. In 2019, the turnout was only 36%, indicating that many Nigerians did not engage in selecting their political leaders. Many governorship elections recorded a turnout of 20% or less, with off-cycle elections like the Anambra gubernatorial elections in 2021 and the Lagos East Senate by-election in 2020 coming down as low as 10%.

However, recent polling data and campaign momentum suggest that voter turnout could be higher in this election. Even a modest change could have significant consequences for the final results. Stears Elections hopes to increase participation in the 2023 elections by making it easy to access critical election data.

The ability to create a specific data product is in no small part due to the multidisciplinary nature of the team. Stears combines expertise across data collection, storage, engineering and visualisation, with deep technical expertise and an understanding of Nigeria’s political economy and demographic dynamics.

The leadership and background of Stears' four founders - Michael Famoroti, an economist; Bode Ogunlana, a software engineer; Abdul Abdulrahim, a data scientist and Preston Ideh, the CEO, all graduates of the London School of Economics and the University of Oxford, makes this kind of diverse team possible.

Between now and the elections, the company will launch newer versions of the data site to add more data and features. Recall that Stears recently secured a $3.3 million seed led by MaC Venture Capital with participation from Serena Ventures, Melo 7 Tech Partners, Omidyar Group’s Luminate Fund, Cascador and Hoaq Club.