Thursday, October 13, 2016

Online Voters’ Compass on Political Parties’ Policy Positions on Oil and Gas to be outdoored

Penplusbytes, with support from Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth (GOGIG) and International IDEA officially launched the “Ghana Elections 2016 – Amplifying Oil, Gas and Elections issues” project in Takoradi in September this year.

The project, which aims at heightening awareness of and strengthening responsiveness to oil and gas governance issues in Ghana was instigated in response to a need to ensure greater inclusion of oil and gas issues in the electoral discourse before, during and after Ghana’s general elections on December 7.

A key component of this project is the creation of an online policy compass dubbed “Voters’ Policy Compass”. This platform will be formally unveiled for public use On Friday, October 14th 2016.

The event will take place at the main auditorium of the University of Professional Studies, Accra. It will be on the side lines of a discussion on Joy FM’S “Ghana Connect” among political parties’ representatives on their oil and gas policy positions.

Ahead of each political party’s launch of their manifestos, Penplusbytes’ partners, Natural Resource and Governance Institute (NRGI) and International IDEA collaborated with the four political parties with parliamentary representation in Ghana; The NPP, NDC, CPP and the PNC, to support their effort in defining their broader policy positions on the management of Ghana’s oil and gas.

These policy positions on oil and gas have been simplified and uploaded on the online policy compass.

The voters compass ( is built to allow potential voters to express anonymously their political opinions on a wide array of topics, and see which party is closer to them, thus giving them advice on which candidate or party is closer to them ideologically. Though originally an online platform idea, the Voters’ Compass has also been modified into a radio phone-in programme which is aired on Starr FM and makes room for citizens without online access to share their opinions.

According to Kwami Ahiabenu, II, Executive Director of Penplusbytes, “validation of promises outlined in political party manifestos have, unfortunately, not been a key component of the national discourse during election campaign periods in Ghana.” This, he said, has mainly been due to political parties launching of their usually bulky manifestos too close to the elections; giving electorates very little to no time to scrutinise them and to make informed decisions based on what each competing party manifesto promises.

Voters Compass shows electorate how their views align with those of the candidates running for election. Significant portions of the policy positions have been framed into questionnaires and statements which allows citizens to respond to. The Voters Compass will analyse the responses of the electorate and compare them with the policies of the candidates to help them understand how they fit into the political landscape with regards to where they agree and disagree with each of the parties.

The overarching aim of the online compass is to drive the electioneering campaign away from personalities to issues especially as it pertains to the oil and gas sector which holds great potential to national development.

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 enhancing media oversight for effective utilization of mining, oil and gas revenue and resources.

GOGIG is a DFID-funded programme established to help fill gaps in the management of the country’s oil and gas resources by improving the capacity of government agencies involved in the management of Ghana’s budding oil and gas sector, as well as engaging with a variety of accountability actors involved in improving public scrutiny of the sector. This innovative five year governance programme is promoting inclusive economic growth in Ghana by improving the management of the country’s oil and gas resources.

International IDEA  is an intergovernmental organization that supports sustainable democracy worldwide. International IDEA’s mission is to support sustainable democratic change by providing comparative knowledge, and assisting in democratic reform, and influencing policies and politics.

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