Monday, February 29, 2016

Featured Member for the month of March: Leah Karawa Mushi

Ms. Leah Karawa Mushi is a senior journalist working with the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation –TBC as Website editor. She is also a presenter and producer of civil education programs with 9 years of experience working in the field.

She has a Masters of Arts degree in International Communication from Communication University of China and a B.A in Mass communication from St. Augustine university of Tanzania.

Ms. Mushi specializes in issues affecting women and the environment and she is a member of the TANZANIA MEDIA WOMEN JOURNALIST ASSOCIATION - TAMWA and also a Board Member of the Journalist Environmental Association of Tanzania –JET.

Recently, she developed an interest in Oil and Gas issues and in 2015 she received an intensive training in reporting on Oil and Gas issues conducted by Penplusbytes and the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) in Accra Ghana.

Aside airing many stories on Oil and Gas, she has already produced two programs on how Gas in MTWARA- TANZANIA benefits women and these were aired by Public Television station TBC1.

Five Major Foundations Announce Groundbreaking Plans to Develop Public Interest Technologists

NEW YORK—The NetGain partnership, a group of five major foundations working to promote the use of the internet for social good, today committed a combined $18 million in grants to strengthen the emerging field of public interest technology, with the goal of increasing the number of people around the world who are using their technological skills to improve civil society and government at all levels. The partners also released their first report detailing opportunities and best practices for others to join the movement to build and expand public interest technology.

In a joint commitment to uncover new ways the internet can be used to foster learning and promote justice, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and the Mozilla Foundation joined together in February 2015 to form the NetGain partnership. Together with leaders from government, philanthropy, business, and the tech world, the partnership aims to explore ways technology can advance the public interest.

“Philanthropy has a responsibility to ensure that technology makes the world more equal. For many of society’s most disenfranchised, their relationship with technology is a virtual extension of their exclusion,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “But what gives me hope is that technology can be a critical ingredient in the efforts to challenge inequality in all its forms and expand inclusion and opportunity.”

The grants announced today include five gifts the foundations collectively agreed to totaling $1.25 million to support public interest technology. An additional $17 million in grants were given by the foundation partners individually over the course of their exploration of this emerging field. The five NetGain grants support everything from fellowships that bring technology into the fields of journalism, science, and public policy, to a Harvard University program that partners with civil society organizations and government institutions to conduct scientific experiments to learn how different technologies impact civil liberties, civil rights, and consumer protection matters, building professional pathways for technologists to engage these issues.

“The NetGain partnership is tackling the paradox of the internet—working to ensure that the technologies of today and the future maximize its great potential for good while minimizing real harm to individuals, communities, and society,” said Julia Stasch, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

“Ensuring that people have the know-how and vision to use technology to advance the common good is essential to fostering an internet where innovation and inclusion thrive,” said Alberto Ibarg├╝en, president of the Knight Foundation. “NetGain aims to bring us closer to this goal, helping to support and uncover the many ways that government, business, and civil society can join the cause of digital equality.”

“NetGain is fostering future leaders and building the skill sets of the people who have the power to change our world for the better,” said Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation. “By investing in a movement of technologists committed to the public interest, we are also promoting the stature of the field, as prescribed by our new report.”

The new report, A Pivotal Moment: Developing a New Generation of Technologists for the Public Interest [PDF], identifies opportunities to build the field of public interest technology, and ways that philanthropy and other stakeholders can invest to best support such efforts. The resource also details best practices that will help people around the world design smarter interventions across government and civil society to develop the talent and capacity of public interest technologists.

“Our destiny as open societies is in the hands of today’s and tomorrow’s technologists, and that’s why this report, indeed this entire initiative, is so important,” said Chris Stone, president of the Open Society Foundations. “We need to encourage the training and development of technologists committed to the spirit of freedom and community that gave birth to the internet.”

Strengthening the field of public interest technology was just the first focus of the NetGain partners. The foundations will announce the next topic of their work later in the year. The overarching principles guiding NetGain include a commitment to:
  • making the internet an open, secure, and equitable space that everyone can access and afford;
  • supporting the opportunities created by a networked public sphere while guarding against potential harm;
  • transforming learning to ensure that young people have the skills they need to succeed in a connected world;
  • cultivating leaders in business, government, and civil society to fulfill the promise of the internet;
  • enhancing data security and protect individual privacy; and
  • ensuring that philanthropy leads in digital security and data ethics in its own practices.
To learn more about NetGain, visit
The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. Working with local communities in more than 100 countries, the Open Society Foundations support justice and human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education.

Penplusbytes Releases Maiden Social Media Index Report on Ghana’s Media Sector

Dedicated to enhancing the work of journalists and promoting effective governance using technology in Africa, Penplusbytes has published the first comprehensive Social Media Index(SMI) report on Ghana's print, and electronic media - Radio and Television.

The SMI report assesses and ranks the vitality of social media platforms managed by various media outfits in Ghana by reviewing their numbers of followers, page Likes and to a considerable extent, regularity, interval of posts and level of engagement. This feeds into determining which outfits are best represented on Facebook and Twitter by media type.

The report looks at the performance of established newspapers, radio and TV stations in Ghana regarding their activity and following on social media as at early February, 2016; measuring how these media entities utilize their online platforms to reach out and engage their target audiences by employing a quantitative research module. This module provides relevant numerical figures which informs the rankings.

According to the report, which is downloadable here, media outfits, Citi FM and Joy FM demonstrate immense influence on Facebook by coming tops in first and second place respectively. Other radio stations that include YFM, Adom FM and Nhyira FM closes out the top 5 radio stations with the most page likes and following on Facebook.

Joy FM and Citi FM, again, ranked in 1st and 2nd place respectively as the two stations with the most following and engagement on Twitter. Other highly ranked stations include YFM, Live FM, Starr FM and Peace FM, in that order. The report spells out in details similar indices on Television and Newspaper outfits in Ghana.

According to Kwami Ahiabenu, II, Executive Director of Penplusbytes, there appears a shift by Ghana’s newsrooms towards the integration of new media strategies like social media in news dissemination. “This report essentially evaluates how visible such entities presently are on social media - Facebook and Twitter specifically, as indicators of the extent to which they are engaging their audience in a virtual space,” he stated.

As internet penetration increases and more people get onto social media platforms, it is predicted that journalists and newsroom managers would slowly but surely transition to becoming more relevant on  social media in order to connect with the public and promote themselves and become even more germane in this digital age.


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.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Driving business value through the Internet of Things in Africa

The Internet of Things (IoT) has the ability to transform the lives of citizens, providing tangible solutions to many of society’s ills. That said, partnerships between the public and private sector will be key in ensuring that these are fully realised.

“It is important to understand that IoT is not a technology, but rather an ecosystem of connected ‘things’ that can only be enabled through partnerships among industry players,” says George Kalebaila, senior research manager at IDC Sub-Saharan Africa.

“What is lacking in South Africa and many other regions, is an overarching platform where everything can plug into bringing about a seamless coexistence and exchange of data to enable some of the key advantages and benefits of IoT.”

IoT applications in retail, transportation, manufacturing and utilities will offer the greatest growth opportunity as enterprises seek to streamline operations and improve customer experience. The retail sector in many ways opens up the opportunity to illustrate the potential and benefits of having a central agnostic network platform, where everything can plug in. For example, if we look at the modern household, it requires basic needs such as; bread, milk, sugar, and more than likely, medication. If we have an interconnected IoT platform, that retail and other industries would plug into such a platform that collected data to one central place were to be available, smart homes would be able to connect to the nearest and customer preferred stores, as well as inform logistics companies of the deliveries that need to be made, while in the process sending data to other sectors involved in providing a 3600 service to consumers. Once the overarching platform is in place, for example, linking retail to smart homes, the opportunities are endless.

“If you look at Rwanda, for example, they have realised that for them to enable a smart city, they need a platform that everything can plug into. They have already started putting those building blocks in place so that their transport, health and education systems plug into the same platform to exchange data, where possible, to enable end-to-end solutions,” says Kalebaila.

He adds that while the possibilities enabled by technology are limitless, it will be crucial for the public and private sector to work together. “The responsibility to develop such platforms lies with both government and the private sector to work hand in hand. The private sector has the technical expertise as well ability to raise the required investment while the government needs to react faster to such technological advancements by creating an enabling policy framework to regulate and provide direction.”

With one central platform available for IoT, sectors such as health would benefit drastically, addressing some of the country’s social challenges. “Furthermore, areas that provide the most jobs in the country such as retail, transportation, manufacturing and utilities will grow, contributing to the economy,” Kalebaila concludes.