Thursday, October 19, 2017

Penplusbytes Begins Deployment of P4H Platform With Orientation in Northern Region

Penplusbytes, the lead ICT organisation engaged in the SEND-Ghana People for Health (P4H) project in four regions of the country, has begun the deployment of the P4H online platform in beneficiary districts in the Northern Region.

The deployment involves the orientation of various stakeholders engaged in the health sector otherwise known as District Citizens Monitoring Committees (DCMCs) as well as visiting staff and management of key health centres.

The P4H platform, developed by Penplusbytes seeks to facilitate citizens’ access to relevant health information especially the patients’ charter, and provide an avenue for them to report their grievances or challenges in accessing healthcare at various health centres in their communities.

So far, the Penplusbytes team led by its Executive Director KwamiAhiabenu II has conducted orientation workshops for DCMCs in the Yendi Municipality,East Mamprusi, Gushiegu and Central Gonja Districts of the Northern Region.

At the Central Gonja District for instance, DCMCs were taken through the concept of the P4H project and its objectives as well as the essence of health workers communicating effectively to their clients in a satisfactory manner with relevant information.

Mr.Ahiabenu explained that, one of the key components of effective and efficient healthcare delivery is through effective communication between healthcare personnel and their clients as well as other stakeholders.

He therefore urged healthcare workers to endeavour to seek feedback from their clients and respond appropriately so as to elicit the desired results that would lead to efficient fight against HIV, maternal and infant mortalities and among others.

The P4H platform, also gives a patient or their relative the power to report any type of rights violation and poor services rendered to him/her by health personnel in any health facility in the regions where the P4H project is being implemented.

KwabenaTabiri, one of the lead developers of the platform, said it seeks to empower citizens to report their concerns on any poor service delivery for immediate resolution so as to achieve quality provision of healthcare from service providers.

The P4H platform can be accessed via One can choose to log in anonymously or provide his/her personal details but managers of the system will protect the person’s identity.
As soon as the issue the patient reported is resolved, he/she will be contacted via sms if only the patient provided his/her contact number at the time of accessing the platform to make a complaint.
People who access the platform to lodge complaints are expected toprovide evidence in pictures, audio or video to back their claims so that staff and managers of the health facility involved can be held responsible. 

The P4H platform is however not limited to only challenges in the health sector. Issues pertaining to the water and sanitation sector which is one of the issues being addressed by the P4H project can also be reported to local authorities.

District Health Management Committees, Regional Health Directorates, Ghana Health Service and other institutions are deeply involved in the investigation of reported cases of abuse or poor service delivery by patients or their relatives to the platform.

The P4H is a 5 year project, being implemented in Greater Accra, Eastern, Volta and Northern Regions by a consortium of governmental and nongovernmental organisations including SEND-Ghana, Penplusbytes and the GNA. SEND-Ghana is the lead implementer of P4H whereas the GNA and Penplusbytes provide communications and ICT services respectively.

The project is benefiting 20 districts in all four regions. In the Northern Region, it is being implemented in Karaga, Central Gonja, East Mamprusi and Yendi.

The objectives of the P4H project include reducing inequalities in the delivery of health services through the promotion of good governance and practices of accountability, transparency, equity and participation. - Source:

For detailed information on the project, kindly visit

Monday, October 09, 2017

Penplusbytes’ African Elections Project covers Liberia Elections

Penplusbytes’ African Elections Project covers Liberia Elections

      Penplusbytes’ African Elections Project (AEP) is set to yet again provide comprehensive coverage of the Liberia general elections slated for Tuesday October 10th 2017.
Voters go to the polls on Tuesday, and for the first time since 1944, a sitting, democratically elected Liberian president is about to hand over the reins of government to a democratically elected successor.
Twenty candidates are expected to compete for the presidency on 10th October 2017 including the current vice president, a former football star, a former war-lord, a fashion model, seasoned politicians and a host of businessmen.
The African Elections Project (AEP) established in 2008 to empower journalists to cover elections using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) across the continent is poised to use new digital tools to cover the October 10 elections as it did in the last Liberia elections in 2011.
According to the Programmes Director of Penplusbytes, Jerry Sam, “Liberia will make history after a peaceful elections and subsequent transfer of power. It is a true test of the African democracy and African Elections Project is excited to be following and bringing audiences up-to-the-minute updates on happenings from Tuesday when the polls open.”
He added that AEP is committed to contribute to a better election by working with the media and civil society organizations through the provision of independent information and impartial coverage using ICTs.
In addition to its flagship online portal, AEP is covering this elections using other new media tools such as Facebook, blogs, SMS and twitter
The project recently covered the Kenyan Elections in August this year and has successfully covered elections in Botswana, Namibia, Ghana, Mauritania, Mozambique, Malawi, Togo, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Uganda, Cameroon and Niger.
Through the AEP, over 100 journalists have been trained in the use of digital tools to cover elections in Africa. Over 17 million citizens have been reached across the continent through this project.
Penplusbytes urges all Liberians to conduct themselves at the polls for a free, fair and peaceful elections.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Please *Open Data*

Open Data

I have a message
I have a message to the world
A message from a she.....a girl
She was so isolated, caged in a cage when I saw her
And wondered why a purposeful lady is ruining the self of her
But she heard my thought and said; It is never my fault but my money oriented society
So she asked; will you deliver my message to the world?
Will I deliver her message to the world?....Yes I will

She continued; my name is Data
And my family?.....the entire human race
So why the price tag on me?
Why does humanity need to pay to have access to me?
And when they can't afford I'm left to rot !
Then the same society will be yelling *Data rot* *Data rot*

Or have my characteristics been forgotten,
That I should be available and accessible to all? 
That I should be reused and distributed?
I'm tired of hearing data rot....Set me free....Open me
Don't even restrict me to one field; I'm a universal asset

Open me up in governance
To ensure transparency, accountability and public participation
Open me up in the scientific world
To facilitate research and development
Open me up in the scholarly field
To feed the brains of students
Open me up!
In the public sector, private sector, everywhere
To improve lives and satisfy the needs of my society

I plead to be available.....
In a machine readable form,textual form, non-textual form, anyhow possible
Maximize my accessibility
To minimize the risk of me being rot, if I should ever be again
Pleeeeease release me
For I should be freely available to everyone to the requirements of attributes and share alike
Open me up, please set me free, release me
I must be everywhere, and I need to be everywhere

Now! This is the message from me to you to the world
Go! go deliver my message to the world
She asked, will you deliver my message to the world?
Will I deliver her message to the world?.....I have

Imagine how the world will be if Data is opened to all for all for free
Open her !
She's long been knoch
king from behind the door to be outdoor-ed
Please open Data


Friday, September 29, 2017

Hack4Citizens enables better watchdog role for Beninese Civil society Groups

Hack4Citizens enables better watchdog role for Beninese Civil society Groups

Technology has become one major tool of communication all over Africa and globally. The second day of #Hack4Citizens in Cotonou, Benin saw a display of the technological expertise of participants, derived from civil society groups and software developers from Benin and Togo.
The different working groups have, for the past two days (27th-28th September), been working on applications than can help bridge the gap between citizens and duty bearers as well as react with pertinent feedbacks.
The hackathon, organized by Penplusbytes with support from OSIWA, was intended to bring together working groups to build digital solutions similar to Kakum, Penplusbytes’ innovative application already famous in Ghana.
The groups presented their innovations including web, mobile and offline platforms. At the end, the application Xo kambio, which offers education monitoring in local councils and towns, won the first prize, followed by Society scientist, which enhances civic participation and transparency, and Œil du citoyen, which was built purposefully to monitor projects.
“Another aim of this hackathon is to build these applications and make them useful to citizens immediately after further enhancements”, Jerry Sam from Penplusbytes said.
Civil society groups were amused by the event and further elated that it had come to ease their struggle.
“We are often interested in ICTs, without really looking at the opportunities we can gain from them. This two-day event is very important for us, to help us achieve our goals”, Joël Atayi-Guedegbe said.
“A very beneficial opportunity” qualified Pascaline Cha-Cha from Rifonga-Bénin, “I would really like to attend another one.”
Penplusbytes invites all interested civil society organisations within the sub region to a partnership in deploying such innovative digital tools.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Amazon revamps Echo smart speaker family

Amazon has announced new versions of its Echo smart speakers that promise improved sound and voice recognition.

The basic model also allows its shell to be changed to give it different looks - a feature already offered by Google's rival Home device.
A larger Echo Plus adds a "home hub", letting it control smart light bulbs and other third-party products without a separate data-linking device.
And the Echo Spot has a screen, making video calls and camera feeds possible.
Amazon has never released sales figures for the earlier Echo line-up.
But researchers suggest it and its smaller sibling the Echo Dot have been the best selling devices of their kind.
Media captionWATCH: Dave Lee gets a first look at the new Echo
The Echo family accounts for 75% of the US market for internet-connected speakers with built-in smart assistant functionality, estimated Consumer Intelligence Research Partners earlier this month. It suggested 15 million devices had been sold to date.

Colour choices

The new Echo is smaller than its predecessor and benefits from a dedicated bass tweeter.
It launches with a choice of six swappable shells that come in different materials.
It will cost £90/$100/100 euros - making it about 40% cheaper than the previous version, as well as undercutting the £129 Google Home.
The Echo Plus - which is compatible with the Zigbee smart home protocol - costs £140/$150/150 euros.
And the Echo Spot, with its 2.5-inch screen and built-in camera, has been priced at $130. It will launch in the US in December but has not yet been given a release date elsewhere.
Echo Spot
Image captionThe Echo Spot can act as an alarm clock, stream feeds from smart cameras as well as enable video calls
"Amazon was first mover in this market, so it had an advantage over some of the others that entered the same space," commented Blake Kozak from the IHS Technology consultancy.
"But it's incredibly important for them to do this refresh - the original Echo came out in 2014 and the hardware hadn't been updated since, although the software and back-end services have been improved continuously.
"Since then we've seen other more 'premium' systems get announced - with higher quality speakers - so, Amazon needed to be seen to match the competition."
Many of those newer systems also feature Amazon's Alexa assistant and will not be seen as a threat.
Amazon has previously said it sells its speakers for roughly the price it costs to produce them, since its ultimate goal is to use Alexa as a means to drive sales of other goods and services.
But at Berlin's Ifa tech show earlier this month, several big name manufacturers - including Sony, Panasonic and JBL - launched systems powered by Google's rival Assistant.
Google HomeImage copyrightGOOGLE
Image captionThe new Echo is 30% cheaper than Google Home in the UK
Further competing systems are expected before the end of the year, including:
At its Seattle event, Amazon also announced Echo Buttons - small Bluetooth-based buzzers that can be used to play games on its speakers, including a forthcoming version of Trivial Pursuit.
In addition, it revealed the Echo Connect, a device that connects to a landline and turns its speakers into speakerphones.
And it announced a deal to bring Alexa to some of BMW's cars, including its Mini brand.
"Amazon has the momentum in the smart speaker and voice assistant space," said Geoff Blaber from the tech consultancy CCS Insight.
"These announcements are designed to deepen its role in our daily lives.
"This raises the bar significantly for Apple and Google."


Amazon EchoImage copyrightAMAZON
Image captionThe new Echo should produce deeper bass when playing music

By Dave Lee, North America Technology reporter

Alexa is breeding!
Amazon has clearly been working incredibly hard to capitalise on the success of its smart assistant hardware. But I'm concerned this new line-up is now so complex, all but the most knowledgeable customers will be baffled as to what features they're getting for their money.
The choice is enormous: Echo, Echo Plus, Dot, Look, Spot, Show, Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, not to mention the Dash Wand.
Alexa's success to date has been about simplicity, and if I was its marketing team, I'd be very worried this flurry of new devices is overwhelming. As for the Echo Buttons... cute idea, but they'll need to do much more than just let you play games.
Amazon has the chance to do for home automation what Apple did for smartphones.
When we talk about the iPhone, we always say Apple's achievement wasn't in making the technology - others had done much of it first - but making that tech accessible and enjoyable to the public at large. I believe Alexa could be that product for smart assistants, but it's far from being a done deal.
Amazon ButtonsImage copyrightAMAZON
Image captionAmazon Buttons offer a new way to interact with the speakers
It all makes Google's launch next week a very interesting one.
The company needs to announce a smartphone better than the upcoming iPhone X, and now a home assistant set-up that is stronger than what Amazon showed us here today. That's a huge ask, even for Google


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Penplusbytes Rolls out Social Accountability Tools (Kakum) in West Africa

Penplusbytes Rolls out Social Accountability Tools (Kakum) in West Africa

After successfully deploying “Tech Driven Social Accountability for Results”  project powered by Kakum in Ghana, Penplusbytes is rolling out this exciting innovative tool in West Africa starting in Benin and Togo.

During project implementation in Ghana, Penplusbytes used Kakum to monitor two national policies (Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) and the Ghana School Feeding Project) creating pathways for citizens to track its implementation for better results.

From 27th to 28th September 2017, in Benin’s capital of Contonu, Penplusbytes is supporting 3 Béninoise civil society organizations to leverage Kakum through a hackathon #hack4citizens which will bring together teams of solution developers and civil society actors to customize Kakum to respond to peculiar needs of activists working in social interventions projects.

The main goal of #hack4citizens is to build on lessons learnt in Ghana while creating an innovative space to connect CSOs who are going to use Kakum in Benin to launch a version of Kakum customized to solve their peculiar problems. For example during Penplusbytes implementation of Kakum, the project supported timely input and processing of Ghana School Feeding Programme policy feedback from citizens which enabled corrective action to be undertaken when there was an issue with quality of food served to school children.

“We are elated about the opportunity to use Kakum,” Joell Atayi-Guedegbe, the head of “Nouvelle Ethique” (civil society) said, “without strong public opinion, there will be no democracy, we have to work more to awaken our consciences. The project and Penplusbytes rollout of Kakum in West Africa is coming at a good time since it will help us achieve our goals.”

Kakum is an open source citizens monitoring tool designed to help civil society and citizens to monitor the implementation of social interventions policies thereby ensuring better policy implementation and results.

Kakum comes with many features such as adding new projects to the platform; filter and categorize various issues; rate policies and provide citizens the opportunity to give feedback and raise issues on policies being tracked. It has the added feature of sending alerts to duty-bearers and also providing feedback to citizens on issues they had queried.
Any user interested in using Kakum or wants to collaborate with Penplusbytes can visit for more information and free downloads.
According to the executive director of Penplusbytes Kwami Ahiabenu II, “we are excited that we able to reach a number of West Africa countries with our innovations aimed at providing citizens with tools they need to monitor for delivery key public services . This is important because it contributes to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well”.
Over the next couple of months, Penplusbytes is expected to rollout out the adaptation and replication of Kakum in two (2) other West African countries after Benin supporting civil society organisations working around social accountability with an appropriate tool to ensure greater change and success in their interventions.
About Penplusbytes
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.
The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) is active in 10 countries in the region (Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone) and focuses on law, justice and human rights, and economic and political governance. The initiative pursues the development of open societies by supporting and building partnerships with local and regional groups that promote inclusive democratic governance, transparency and accountability, and active citizenship.