Monday, November 14, 2016


While Ghana has been lauded for electoral success in times past, there are challenges with participatory, transparent and accountable governance which have accounted for poor public service delivery especially at the grassroots level.

Penplusbytes, in its quest to help to promote citizens’ participation at the grassroots level of governance, is implementing the Canadian Fund for Local Initiative (CFLI) funded project “Enhancing Grassroots Civic Participation in Governance Using New Digital Tools”.

The project has an overall aim of empowering citizens through digital tools to effectively participate in the local governance decision making process and to promote better public service delivery especially in health and education.

To achieve this aim, Penplusbytes will train selected journalists to acquire the necessary skills and understanding of the local governance process and how to simplify and report on the district assembly’ budget and development plans to create awareness, inform and educate citizens. They will also be taken through courses on advocacy and how to hold duty bearers to account and facilitating citizens’ engagement with duty bearers.

The 2 day training, slated for 21-22 November, is scheduled to take place at Penplusbytes’ New Media Hub and bringing together 15 selected journalists whose work focuses on governance activities in the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly. The Participants will be taken through how the online portal designed for the project works

The training is aimed at increasing the understanding of these persons in closing feedback loop in citizens’ engagement at the grassroots level of governance and in equipping them with the requisite tools to tell compelling stories that will enable citizens participate in the local government process and provide an opportunity for the Assembly officials to effectively collaborate with the media in securing the buy-in of citizens in the Assembly’s projects.

Jerry Sam, Programmes Director at Penplusbytes said, “We expect this training to produce journalists who are interested in the happenings within their localities and are well equipped with ICT tools to disseminate such news in an appealing manner to audiences. Penplusbytes as an organization is poised to deliver innovative training for media persons. We have done it over the years, it’s nothing new to us.”

The project will help close the existing interface and institutional capacity gaps by transforming the relationship between actors at the local level by creating awareness amongst citizens on allocated budgets and development plans.

It is expected that at the completion of the project, civic engagement in local governance processes will be improved, duty bearers and public officials will be more responsive to citizens’ needs and design policies and programmes that will address citizens specific concerns and the media playing an effective oversight role in holding duty bearers account in public service delivery.

Penplusbytes is a not-for-profit organization driving change through innovations in three key areas: using new digital technologies to enable good governance and accountability, new media and innovations, and driving oversight for effective utilisation of mining, oil and gas revenue and resources.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Penplusbytes, EIB end 3-Day Data Journalism Workshop for Election Reporting in Accra

A 3-day Data Journalism Workshop to train selected Journalists from Ghana’s southern sector has successfully ended at the Maxlot Hotel in Accra.

The Workshop, organized by Penplusbytes in partnership with EIB Network and with support from the USA Embassy in Ghana, opened on Thursday, October 27, 2016 after a formal ceremony attended by representatives of key elections stakeholders such as the Ghana Police Service and the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE).

The training, which comes off the heels of a similar program held for journalists from the Northern sector in Kumasi a fortnight ago, formed part of the implementation of the “Voter’s Count – amplifying voices through new digital platforms” project designed to keep citizens informed and engaged on political campaign issues to enable them make informed decisions at the polls while strengthening Ghana’s credentials as a beacon of democracy in the sub-region.

Speaking at the formal closing ceremony to present certificates to the participants, Press Attaché at the US Embassy in Ghana, Sara Veldhuizen Stealy reiterated the Mission’s commitment to supporting Ghanaian Journalists with tools that enhances their reportage. "We are interested in supporting journalists and your work doesn't necessarily need to be about us," she said.

On her part, Strategy Director of Penplusbytes, Juliet Amoah expressed her excitement with how the enthusiasm exhibited by participants, urging them to make their newly acquired skills tell on their work. She said; “the training aimed at strengthening their skills and help leverage their knowledge and experience for improved issues-based coverage of Ghana’s 2016 general elections and I’m looking forward to seeing just that.”

Afedzi Abdullah, a participant from Ghana News Agency (GNA), described the training as enlightening, saying: “the workshop served its purpose for me and I’m truly excited to have been part of it.”

According to Kuul FM’s Jemima Achivors, “the training has been truly eye-opening; one that has added on to my repertoire of skills. I believe this would improve my news coverage and reporting abilities tremendously.

In all, 15 Participants drawn from a cross-section of media organisations in Greater Accra, Volta, Eastern, Central and Western regions; comprising Print, Radio, TV and Online establishments were introduced to data Journalism, digital visualisation and digital storytelling tools and were taking through various processes of sourcing data and how to clean and analyse them to produce data-driven stories.

Participants are expected to produce and publish data-driven stories with their newly acquired skills. They will enjoy continuous support and guidance from the organizers to enable successful completions of their various story projects.

Penplusbytes is a not-for-profit organization driving change through innovations in three key areas: using new digital technologies to enable good governance and accountability, new media and innovations, and driving oversight for effective utilisation of mining, oil and gas revenue and resources.

EIB Network is led by a team of seasoned and competent managers who have helped in diverse ways to establish most of Ghana’s competitive media brands. A relatively new entrant in Ghana’s media landscape, EIB Network’s ambitious corporate drive is the reason for its phenomenal growth over a relatively short period. The network serves both English and twi-speaking demographics across its seven radio stations, two television stations and a newspaper.