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Ghanaians Push For Internet Access and Data Journalism

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, October 14 2013

Lake Volta (Wikipedia/SandisterTei)

Ghanaian civil society organizations have banded together in a push for greater Internet access in the country. Earlier this month 30 organizations called on the government to make Internet penetration a priority. The call took place turning a workshop on Internet freedom in Ghana organized by the Media Foundation for West Africa with support from a UK-based organization, Global Partners and Associates. Ghana's Communications Minister, Dr. Edward Kofi Omane Boamah, has voiced his support for the organizations' plea.

"This is not an easy proposition in this era of technology and the necessity to build an inclusive and sustainable information and knowledge society," Boamah said as he opened the Regional Preparatory Meeting for Africa for the World Telecommunications Development Conference 2014.

He added:

We have no option in this regard. We must deliver if we truly are the policy-makers, the industry players, the development partners, the civil society and the academia and indeed the true representatives of the people. We must at all times recognize that the people will not lower their expectations because there are challenges.

A Media Foundation for West Africa study concluded that Internet penetration in Ghana is still under 20 percent.

Meanwhile, the International Institute of ICT Journalism (Penplusbytes) has just launched a two-year project called “Open Ghana – Data Journalism for Improved Maternal Healthcare Delivery.” With additional funding and support from STAR-Ghana, the project will equip journalists in the Volta region with the tools to use data journalism to promote maternal healthcare stories.

The press release states:

Over the course of the project, Penplusbytes will develop interactive cutting edge online resources that will enable journalists, citizens and CSOs [civil society organizations] access and publish data on maternal healthcare delivery for a concerted advocacy work, undertake face-face forums that will bring stakeholders together to demand accountability from duty bearers and also issue regular SMS alerts to inform subscribers on the state of maternal healthcare delivery in the Volta Region.

The Volta region was chosen because it has not reached a target set by the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals to reduce maternal mortality by 2015.

While it is an admirable project that addresses a pressing need for maternal health, the success is in many ways dependent on access to ICTs, which in itself is a problem waiting to be addressed.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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