Thursday, December 11, 2008

Twittering the Ghanaian Elections

While the use of Twitter has become increasingly familiar in North America, Europe and many parts of Asia, it is still a very new and relatively unknown tool in other regions of the world such as Sub-Saharan Africa. However, it has proven to be an efficient way to quickly share information in times of political changes such as yesterday's [1] Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Ghana.

The Mobile Active blog [2] commented on the importance of sms for election monitoring, especially after the instances of fraud of violence experienced in the last months in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Nigeria:

Each of the 4,000 trained observers-mostly members of the 34-organization strong CODEO coalition–are deployed all over Ghana are using their phones to report on incidences at the polls and how well the polls are conducted, using a coded checklist. As we have reported before, systematic SMS reporting by trained local citizen observers about how well an election is conducted can prevent rumors, and is an independent and reliable indicator about the quality of the election process.

One of the Twitter users that twittered the vote and the subsequent results almost minute by minute was [3] Ghanaelections, a Twitter account set up by the African Elections project, aimed at developing the capacity of the media in ICTs in order for them to use it as a tool for election coverage in Ghana, Cote d'lvoire and Guinea from 2008 to 2009.

Other twitterers had more modest intentions and simply wanted to [4] share their joy as [5] first time voters, such as [6] Kwabena, who the day before the election [7] had announced "I'm hopin to see long queues on Sunday. Kill the apathy, Ghana".

[8] AfricaTalks also [9] reported his vote, that took him only 15 minutes since arriving at the polling station in spite of the long lines that in some places started [10] as early as 2am.

Although [11] some [12] incidents [13] were reported by observers and twitterers, overall the voting went well and the day passed [14] calmly and [15] smoothly.

Once the polls closed, twitterers were excited to start reporting on the vote counting:

A few hours later, the first provisional results were also posted on Twitter as they were being announced. For example, chrisdof announced that the winning of a seat in Parliament by the daughter of [16] Kwame Nkrumah who led Ghana to independence in 1957. Another Twitter user, ghanablogger, not only he liveblogged about voting but he also [17] linked to a video of it, as well as to [18] several photos that he took of the polling stations and that he posted on his blog.

As of Monday morning the results of the Presidential elections are not yet clear, only that it was a [19] very close race. Most international media reported on the big turnout and smoothness of the voting day.

While waiting for the official results, blogger Oluniyi David Ajao complains about the lack of attention to good news from Africa such as peaceful elections in his home country in a post titled "[20] Does Ghana exist?"

The Ghana 2008 Presidential/Parliamentary elections has been over since about 12 hours ago and I find it interesting that many of the leading Western media outlets have not made a mention of Ghana 2008 Elections. Perhaps, Ghana does not exist on their radar screen. Ghana, like the rest of black Africa will only pop-up on their monitoring screens when over 1,000 people have butchered themselves or over 300,000 people are dying of starvation, or over 500,000 people are displaced by a civil war.

From Global Voices Online:

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