Sunday, September 11, 2016

VIDEO : @penplusbytes Amplifying oil and gas issues -Ghana elections 2016 launched in Takoradi

Ghana opposition woos voters with billon-dollar spending promise

By Matthew Mpoke Bigg
SALAGA, Ghana, Sept 6 (Reuters) - The leader of Ghana's main opposition party, Nana Akufo-Addo, climbed from his car, picked up a microphone and made a bold election promise to give every constituency the equivalent of $1 million a year if his party wins power.
The money would be used to alleviate poverty by installing basic services such as electricity, running water and sanitation in a country that has accepted an IMF bailout in part to help manage debt accumulated from past government spending.
Akufo-Addo and his running mate Mahamudu Bawumia did not explain to the crowd how they would finance the plan, which would cost $1.1 billion over four years, given that Ghana has 275 constituencies.
But this did not appear to matter to the hundreds who had waited until after dark for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) rally on Friday in Salaga, a trading town in one of Ghana's poorest regions. They blew vuvuzelas and roared their approval.
"We have many, many good policies," Akufo-Addo said as he campaigned for the Dec. 7 vote. "And I want you to know that I will never, ever stand before you and tell you I can do something that I cannot do."
Promising new initiatives in a time of austerity is a favourite tactic of politicians the world over and, to head off the scepticism such pledges often face, the NPP insists its plans would not break the budget.
Funds for constituencies would come from the existing budget, while the private sector rather than state-run corporations would help support other plans.
Akufo-Addo also promised to build a dam in every village, a factory in every district and offer free secondary school education as he toured the northern region.
Policy debate matters in elections in Ghana, a stable democracy where ethnic alliances do not play a decisive political role. Akufo-Addo is bidding for power for a third time, having lost in 2008 and 2012.
His party, however, won two elections starting in 2000, during which time he served as attorney general and then foreign minister.
It was difficult to assess whether the $1 million promise and the rally as a whole won new converts in Salaga, though if it enthused supporters it will have served an electoral purpose.
One development worker who already supports the party said the pledge would mainly help to focus local government spending.
"This (spending plan) is very good ... What he is trying to do will help local districts to better plan and execute their projects," said Iddi Zakaria, who works for a local NGO.
Since President John Mahama's narrow victory in 2012, Ghana has lost its reputation as one of Africa's hottest investment destinations, as a global commodities slump reduced revenue from exports of gold, oil and cocoa.
Inflation, the deficit and public debt rose. Ghana also faced years of power rationing, which has now largely ended.
The government says it is committed to following the $918-million bailout even in an election year when administrations often spend more cash.
It also says the crisis is over, pointing to 4.9 percent GDP growth in the first quarter of 2016, up from 4.5 percent in the same period last year. At the same time, the deficit has halved since 2014 to around 5 percent of GDP.
Even so, the downturn, which raised unemployment, provides ammunition for Akufo-Addo, whose party if elected would face the same fiscal constraints as the current government.
The NPP is yet to launch its manifesto but said it plans to reallocate 20 percent of current capital expenditure to pay for its policies on poverty alleviation, rather than borrow, and it vows to impose strict fiscal discipline.
"The life of our population is not going to get better unless the economy grows (faster)," Akufo-Addo told Reuters.
Some commentators doubt the opposition pledges. Consultants would be needed to make it work so some of the money would go to them, said Kwami Ahiabenu, an expert in governance and technology.
There is also no guarantee that communities would make the best choices or allocate money within each district coherently.
"If I have a factory, will I have a road, will I have electricity? Will I have a market to sell my products?" Ahiabenu said, adding that the plan could work only if it was integrated.
The last two elections have been close, but there are no reliable independent electoral polls for Ghana this time and both sides say their own polls put them narrowly ahead.
The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) is also yet to launch its manifesto but says government investments in infrastructure have helped citizens..
Koku Anyidoho, deputy NDC general secretary, dismissed Akufo-Addo's plans and told Reuters Ghana's mid-term growth prospects were strong.
"There is so much light at the end of the tunnel. That is the message we are going to give to the people rather than going with those phoney promises," he said. (Editing by Tim Cocks and Alison Williams)

Be Forthright With Information To Curb Misuse Of Social Media – Analyst

Security Analyst Adib Saani has impressed upon officialdom to be forthright with information to avoid people relying on unofficial sources such as social media for information.

Commenting on calls on security services to put in place measures to curb the misuse of social media, Mr Saani said citizen's reliance on official sources of information is key.

The Security Analyst said the media must also double check information from social media sources before publication, but stifling it will represent an affront to freedom of speech.

Meanwhile, governance and Technology expert, Kwami Ahiabenu says the Ghana Police Service needs to intensify policing of the social media space and expose those caught abusing the medium ahead of the December Elections. Mr Ahiabenu said even though regulating social media on Election Day is possible, it comes with a huge technological and human cost that may not be necessary.

Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) 

Professor Abid Yahya Delivers 10th Anniversary Public Lecture

by Benjamin Larbi, Communication Officer
On July 11, 2016, Professor Abid Yahya, a distinguished scholar in engineering and a researcher of international repute, 
delivered the maiden edition of the 10th Anniversary Public Lecture series at the McCarthy Hill campus. 
The topic for the lecture was “The Importance of Mobile Computing and Cloud Technology in the 21st Century”.
The lecture series forms part of activities earmarked to celebrate the University’s 10th anniversary.
 In attendance at the lecture were Regent staff, students, participants from various industries, and friend
s of the University College.
Dr. Prince Kofi Kludjeson, the Executive Chairman of the Kludjeson International Group of Companies 
served as the chairperson for the lecture. In his introductory remarks, Dr Kludjeson expressed delight at the progress
 the University had made over the years, and recounted memories of Regent’s humble beginnings 
when it operated from a rented building in Accra. He remarked that he uses the Regent story often to encourage would-be entrepreneurs not to be afraid of starting small.

Dr. Prince Kofi Kludjeson and Prof. Abid Yahya
Dr. Prince Kofi Kludjeson and Prof. Abid Yahya

“There is nothing in this world that begins in a big way. Things start small”, he stressed. 
“The good Lord has given everyone a brain and a heart, and what we achieve in life depends on what we do with these gifts”, he added.
Dr. Kludjeson expressed optimism about wide application of cloud technology especially in the educational sector.

Mobile Computing and Cloud technology in the 21st Century
In the lecture, Professor Abid Yahya noted that the topic, "The Importance of Mobile Computing 
and Cloud Technology in the 21st Century" is relevant, particularly to the African context. 
He expressed the hope that post graduate students would find research in the field of cloud 
technology interesting and rewarding.  
He drew attention to the fact that cloud computing technology is at the heart of many popular 
social media platforms such as twitter and instagram, and applications like Gmail, Skype, Flickr, 
YouTube and WhatsApp, that are now being commonly used in Africa. 

Participants of the Public Lecture
Participants of the Public Lecture

Prof. Yahya explained that through cloud storage, large documents can be saved and accessed anywhere in the world from an internet-enabled device. This, he stated, includes large files in different formats. An application like Google drive, 
that utilizes the power of cloud technology storage capacity, has for example, 
made it possible to readily upload, save and share important documents with colleagues, friends and business partners. This technology could also be applied to collaborative projects.
Professor Abid Yahya intimated that cloud computing was for more than just storage, explaining that it existed in three service models:  infrastructure as service, platform as service, and software as service.
 “Online banking applications, online photo editing software and social media applications are examples of software as a service,” he said.
He introduced the concept of “Internet of Things (IoT)”, a system in which devices and other items interconnect, collect and share data.
He said that according to experts, there could be more than 50 billion devices connected to IoT by the year 2020.

Prof. E. K. Larbi, President & Founder of Regent University College
Prof. E. K. Larbi, President & Founder of Regent University College

Prof. Yahya further noted that IoT continued to revolutionize sectors such as healthcare, education, 
retail trade, the manufacturing industry, and transportation globally. In the area of healthcare,
 and specifically, for chronic diseases, IoT is readily applicable for a "Smart Hospital" system. 
This makes it possible for patients to be monitored by doctors remotely through wearable health devices that transmit Patient Generated Data. Also, tagged surgical swabs, for example, could be digitally monitored to ensure that none is
 left in patients after surgery, avoiding doubts experienced with manual counting of swabs. 
The IoT is also effective for tracking teaching equipment at schools using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). 
In the retail sector, Prof. Yahya revealed that IoT is being used to enhance the shopping experience for customers. 
When this tool is effectively applied, there could be real-time inventory coupled with automated store replenishment
 of used items in the store. 
Prof. Abid Yahya predicted a significant upsurge in the use of cloud computing and Internet of Things in Africa. 
He maintained that cloud technology and mobile computing devices together present Africa with a unique 
opportunity to leap frog critical infrastructure deficits.
Mr. Kwame Ahiabenu II, the key respondent for the lecture
Mr. Kwame Ahiabenu II, the key respondent for the lecture

Mr. Kwame Ahiabenu II, the President of Penplusbytes who was the respondent to the lecture, noted some of 
the challenges facing the technology sector in Africa. According to him, the lethargy in embracing change and the 
relatively low number of PhD graduates in the fields of computer science, maths and related disciplines, 
were factors causing stagnation in industrial growth in Ghana and consequently in the economy. 
He also drew attention to the issue of security in cloud computing technology. 
He was optimistic however that with the right national policies in place, the information technology sector could experience tremendous growth in Ghana and Africa. 
The 10th Anniversary Public Lectures seeks to stimulate intellectual discussions, with the aim of bringing answers to developmental challenges facing Ghana and Africa.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Elections in the age of Social Media

By Tope Adebola
Through a series of straightforward steps, audience members at the Social Media and Elections workshop were encouraged to devise their own social media coverage plans on the spot. Facilitated by Penplusbytes executive director, and new Highway Africa Fellow, Kwami Ahiabenu II, audience participation in this workshop was at peak level right from the start.
In a newsroom, some of the stages ofimplementing a social media coverage plan successfully are defining anaudience; evaluating what tools to use; and, monitoring progress and takingcorrective action.
“Now, I want you to give me examples of the use of social media in elections,”
Ahiabenu said, opening up the floor for further audience input. Ahiabenu spoke in an edifying manner, a teacher accustomed to conducting training sessions and mentoring people. His tone was warmly rhetorical, “one of them is the ability to, what? Connect with the candidate,” Ahiabenu said, exemplifying the value of social media in elections from ordinary people’s perspective.
He then proceeded to divide the audience into three groups, and gave them free rein to brainstorm their own social media election coverage plans.
The outcomes of the group work were fairly uniform, showing how relevant and applicable such phases in social media planning are. The group comprised Pearl Majola Nigel Mugamu (, Georgina Asare Fiagbenu (Senior Corporate Communications Manager, MTN Ghana), and Yandisa Sobahle (Rhodes University), and had particularly keen insights to share about WhatsApp and its application to crowd sourcing.
Ahiabenu cautioned. He had the room chuckling at a spicy example of just how wrong these WhatsApp groups can go. Apparently, a rogue WhatsApp group member once posted a pornographic image on an ultra religious WhatsApp group, causing a near collapse of years of friendships.
Mugamu countered that WhatsApp groups can in fact be self-regulating because they determine the topic, a time limit for discussion, and most members adhere to these informal rules.
“That’s interesting, that’s a well behaved group,” Ahiabenu laughed.
The general consensus was that the interactivity and practical nature of the workshop’s content were the highlights of Ahiabenu’s afternoon session.