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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Political candidates’ Social Media Use Increase ahead of December Polls- 2nd Governance Social media Index

Penplusbytes’ Governance Social Media Index (GSMI) tracks the relevance and effective use of social media in the governance space. The first index report was published in June 2016 and showed how key actors within the political and governance ecosystem of Ghana were engaging their electorates on social media as an alternative to traditional media.

The second edition of the SMI report assessed and ranked the presence of political parties, political party leaders and key election management bodies in Ghana on social media based on their followers and level of engagement on Facebook and Twitter as of 30th September, 2016. 

According to 2nd Governance Social Media Index report which is downloadable here, President John Dramani Mahama, leads the pack of presidential candidates on Facebook with 1,007,595 likes which indicates an increase of 125,171 more likes from his June figure of 880,620. The leader of the largest opposition party, Nana Akufo-Addo followed him closely with 981,057 likes on Facebook which also indicates an increase of 265, 341. These figures show that even though President Mahama has over 1 million Facebook followers, Nana Akufo-Addo increased his followership (265,341) as compared to President Mahama (125,175) in the last three months. 

On twitter, there was a new addition and an interesting twist to that. Though the flagbearer of the National Democratic Party, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings did not have an official twitter account as at the time of the first 1st Index report in June 2016, her twitter account as at September 2016 had 493 followers which is relatively impressive compared to CPP’S Ivor Greenstreet who joined Twitter a year ago and as at September 2016 has 609 followers. 

With regards to the political parties, the NPP continues to lead with 307,963 likes on Facebook followed by the PPP with 33,193 followers beating the NDC who are now third with 24,743 likes on Facebook. The Flagbearer of the biggest opposition party, Nana Akufo Addo seems to be have taken a better advantage of Twitter to communicate and interact with his followers as evidenced in the over 4,000 tweets as compared with the President John Mahama’s 842 tweets.

According to the executive director of Penplusbytes, Kwami Ahiabenu II, electoral campaigns have become more about social networking using the existing and emerging social media platforms than the conventional approach which emphasizes more of a one-way communication with limited chances to generate feedback. “This index has shown that Ghanaian political parties and some election management bodies have increased their reliance on social media to engage their electorates, particularly ahead of the 2016 General Elections,” he said.

However, social media is driven largely by fast internet connectivity. There is therefore the need to improve internet services across the country for the effective use of social media for political communication among Ghanaians.


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, October 18, 2016

“Voters compass”: where do you stand as a citizen on oil and gas issues?

To keep citizens informed and abreast with the policy positions and manifesto promises of the various political parties on oil and gas, Penplusbytes collaborated with the Multimedia’s “Ghana Connect” programme to outdoor the online “Voters Compass” for public use at the University of Professional Studies, Accra campus on Friday 14th October.

The Voters Compass shows electorates how their views align with those of political parties. Significant portions of the policy positions have been framed into questionnaires and statements which allow citizens to respond to. The responses are then analysed and compared with the policies of the parties to help them understand how they fit into the political landscape with regards to where they agree and disagree with each of the parties.

During the launch, representatives of the four political parties with parliamentary representation together with a cross section of the public also took turns at taking the quiz and were fascinated by the innovation.

The panel discussion that followed the launch focused on the statements on the Voters Compass which sought to seek clarity from the political parties on some of their policy interventions and manifesto promises.  

The political parties were represented by Dr. William Ahadzi, Director of Research of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Aziz Gomda, Deputy Director of communications of the Conventions Peoples party (CPP) and the New Patriotic Party was represented by a member of their communications team, Richard Asante Yeboah.

The reps answered questions from both the moderator and citizens ranging from fiscal responsibility, revenue management, legal and institutional arrangement to accountability of state owned enterprises in the oil and gas sector.

In his response, Dr. William Ahadzi said the NDC government is committed to transparency in the use of oil revenue in the country and is not deliberately denying the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) funds for its operations because of its watchdog role.

According to him, the committee is facing the same financial challenges other state institutions go through yearly in the hands of government.

He added that the question of whether or not Ghana needs one more oil refinery should be on a demand driven basis.

On his part, Aziz Gomda of the CPP stated emphatically that should his party be given the mandate, “the CPP will empower PIAC to carry out its oversight role of ensuring accountability in the oil sector”.

He was particular about the fact that the party intends to come up with laws to insulate state institutions in the extractive sector to make them more independent.

Richard Asante Yeboah of the NPP said his party’s policy position is to make sure that revenues from the oil fields are judiciously used for the purpose for which they are earmarked.

“The NPP will collaborate with the private sector to build a new refinery. In our quest to move to an industrialized country, the NPP will prioritize in these four areas (Agric, Health, Education and Infrastructure). These are the areas the chunk of the proceeds from oil will be invested”, he added.

Programmes Director at Penplusbytes, Jerry Sam reiterated the need for the compass saying, “the overarching aim of the online compass is educate citizens on the various policy positions of the slected political parties, drive the electioneering campaign away from personalities to issues and offer an opportunity to the various political parties to develop and implement realistic oil and gas policies that will lead to an effective management of the sector for an inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction.”