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Is Information Power?
Using Mobile Phones and Free Newspapers during an Election in Mozambique

NOVAFRICA working paper series
Jenny C. Aker

Tufts University and CGD

Paul Collier

University of Oxford and CEPR

Pedro C. Vicente

Nova School of Business and Economics, NOVAFRICA and BREAD

ISSN 2183-0843
Working Paper No 1304
September 2013

Abstract

African elections often reveal low levels of political accountability. We assess different forms of voter education during an election im Mozambique. Three interventions to providing information to voters and calling for their electoral participation were randomized: an SMS – based information campaingn, an SMS hotline for electoral misconduct, and the distribution of a free newspaper. To mesure impact, we look at official electoral results, reports by electoral observers, behavioral and survey data. We find positive effects of all treatments on voter turnout. We observe that the distribution of the newspaper led to more accountability-based participation and to a decrease in an electoral problems.

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