When Ghana’s Information Minister shows up on Facebook

Zita Okaikoi

Believe it or not, Ghana’s Minister of Information is now on Facebook, the most successful social networking site so far.

Facebook was started about five years ago by a young man, Mark Zuckerberg with college students in mind. But in the five years since it started, the site has gained over 250 million users, and cuts across all groups. Someone had said elsewhere that if it was a country, Facebook would have been the third most populated country in the world!

While it does not release its earnings, a recent stock buy-out option valued the site around $6.5 billion.

The Ministry announced her presence in a press statement released in Accra Tuesday September 1, 2009.

According to the release the Minister, Zita Okaikoi announced that she will be available for two hours every week to interact and answer questions on her Facebook page.

It added that the two deputies at the Ministry, James Agyenim-Boateng and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa would also at different times be online to interact.

The news is immediately heartwarming and encouraging. It is encouraging in the sense that government machinery is waking up, albeit a bit late to the realities of the times. Despite an ambitious and forward looking ICT development agenda, government has consistently paid lip service to the actual implementation of ICT led programmes to bring about real transformation.

It is instructive to say however, that the ICT revolution taking place in Ghana currently is increasingly led by the private sector and individual initiatives.

A professor of computer science Prof. Clement Dzidonu had warned that Ghana as a country cannot make much progress by merely promoting Information Communication Technology (ICT).

He said, “ICT per se will not solve our problems, you need other resources like power and so on to make use of ICT. Buying electronics gadget without using them to solve your problems is a double loss.”

Prof. Dzidonu, who is also the President of Accra Institute of Technology, argues that while there is growing awareness of ICT in Ghana, the country is still at what he calls “the preliminary stages” of ICT. He said the country has not got to the stage where it could use ICT to transform the society and economy. That is the challenge the country is facing.

While the move by the Information Ministry is in the right direction, it is hard to see how the Ministry which has persistently performed one of its primary duties of media accreditation at below any standards elsewhere, could successfully use new media to effectively and efficiently engage the public.

Again it is curious to see how the Ministry which has an entrenched image as propaganda wing of government, would succeed in the virtual world of the World Wide Web.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
Email: edogbevi@hotmail.com

No Comments
  1. Emmanuel.K.Bensah Jr. says

    Emmanuel, nice piece.

    I was interviewed, albeit briefly, on Joy FM’s midday news. A media practitioner who is also a Facebook user castigated me for claiming it was a “knee-jerk reaction.” While we did speak and I understand where he is coming from (as it suggests that MINO might have been criticised for NOT using facebook), I still believe that if Facebook is going to COMPLEMENT government policy, certainly it should not take the plunge so deep like this?

    First of all, we have our government portals that have not been sufficiently exploited for the benefit of our citizens. For example, ghana.gov.gh could be made more mobile-friendly, to include txt msg alerts and whatnot.

    Facebook is not just for the young–it is now an all-encompassing medium that cuts across ages and walks of life. For it to be effective in a country where more than half of BECE students have failed their exams and where greater attention to literacy is needed strikes me as counter to meaningful development.

    Just because Facebook is buzzing every nano-second does not mean that you have to have a “LIVE CHAT” every week. What is the objective of that live chat? To canvass opinions of the youth, or the rest of the population? How many even middle class use FACEBOOK? At the times (3pm) that they should be working, would you want them to seek permission from their bosses to come talk to the MINO officials–or would they do it on the sly?

    In short, it has implications–on productivity at work (time of day (3pm) i snot conducive to productivity, perhaps lunch time? weekends?); on skills (how much of the population is adept at using the ‘Net — let alone Facebook?); on meaningful communication (does MINO have the capacity to monitor the chats from bad/foul language/repetitive questions & comments, etc); on inclusiveness (what portion of the population are even online most of the time to make contributions?

    If they said they were reaching out to the Diasporan community and the youth ALONE, then I would understand, but I sincerely believe that Facebook should not be used at the expense of existing working systems like govt portals which the jury might even be out on as to how effective it remains for the general public.

    Cheers!

  2. mawuli says

    lets hope that it would help the ministry to perform better

  3. ANNIOH says

    very grt mad; the minister; the npp wants to play down every pus in the govt; but employ more lawyers?economics,COMMUNICATORS TO HELP IN THIS WORK. WITH A COMPUTER ROOM. AND THEY WILL BE DIFFUSING THE MAYHEM COMMUNICATIONS OF THENPP.
    AND ANSWERING ALL QUESTIONS ON ALL THE RADIOS IN GHANA.
    COMMUNICATIONS WILL HELP THE ECONOMIC GROWTH.
    THEN THIS XMAS U KNOW THESE NPPS HAVE MONEY. THEY COULD CRIPPLE THE XMAS FOR PEOPLE TO SAY THE NDCS CAN NOT DO ANYTHING. EVEN THE NDC SUPPORTERS WJLL BUY THIS IDEA.
    THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE SHOULD START FROM NOW HOW FOOD COULD BE BROUGHT FROM THE HONTERLAND TO ALL OVER GHANA TO BRING DOWN INFLATION.
    PI SHOULD BE THE BEST XMAS AND SHOULD START FROM NOW.
    SOFT LOANS FOR BUISINESSMEN AND THE FIGHT AGAINST ARMED ROBBNERS AND CRIME MUST TAKE THE SECOND FACE.
    WITH THE REGIONAL POLICE HEADS OR THEIR SPOKESMEN OR WOMEN SPEAKING TO THE NATION.

    IT MUST BE THE BEST XMAS IN GHANA.
    A PILOTE PLAN OF BREAKING DOWN BOMBER LATRINES MUST START FROM OUR CEBTRAL MARKETS.AND OUR STADIA.
    THE NATIONAL INSURANCE SCHEME ISIT A GOOD OR A HARM.
    ONE GOES TO HOSPITAL WITH THIS SCHEME TREATED AND RETURNED TO THE DISEASE INFECTED BOMBER LATRINES AND THE HIPIC KVIP TOILETS ONLY TO HAVE THE WORSE DISEASE.
    MADAM GOOD TOILETS,I MEAN WATER CLOSET ONES AND BATHS CREATE EMPLOYMENT AND HELP TOURIST.
    IF PROF IS GOING TO EMBARK ON THIS PROJECT HE WILL TAKE 2012 EASILY
    I HAVE HOW TO FA NANCE IT. LIGHTNING AND WATER TO FLASH IT.
    E MAIL ADDRESS annoh@live.fr tel;0033643245520

  4. Dr.P.K.Mukherji says

    Dear Hon.Minister
    It is a real pleasure to know that you have decided to leverage a solution of new age technology like facebook to communicate with others and convey your message. In my view it is a commendable initiative. I have read in the press that your President has taken a major initiative to brand Ghana. Your initiative will go a long way to change the perception of western world on the level of advancement that Africa is achieving. I salute you for this.
    You will be happy to know as the President of Avasant, the world’s leading IT/BPO advisory firm, I am working closely working with your Ministry of Communication to attract investment into Ghana’s IT/BPO industry. In our initiative we plan to take certain steps to position Ghana as a impotant destination for IT/BPO services.
    I will be in Accra during the later half of Oct 2009. I would like an opportunity to meet you and discuss various aspects of building the Ghana brand. Appreciate if you can give me some time.
    Best Wishes

  5. patrick kuatsikor atsu says

    this is the better Ghana we are looking for

  6. samuel says

    Its nice see the mother herself join this sociable site.I Think this will her the avenue reach to the whole society

  7. Ginamays says

    Keep up the good works Information Team!!!

  8. abeiku,usa says

    good job my dear minister for such idea.but you need to warn your deputies
    about how they chart with the ladies online,so they don’t bring disgrace to you,prof and the peaceful nation,ghana.GOD GHANA

  9. Ama Bonsu says

    Bravo Mad, keep up the good work, african women are strongly behind you.

  10. ALIRIMBEY ALHAJI ELVIS says

    (1) I WILL LIKE TO KNOW WHAT THE NURSES AND MIDWIVES’ COUNCIL IS DOING ABOUT THE FINAL EXAMS OF REGISTERED GENERAL NURSES WHICH WAS SCHEDULED FOR NOVEMBER 2ND TO 14TH DECEMBER, 2009 BUT POSTPONED DUE INJUNCTION COURT KEPT ON IT.

    (2) I WILL ALSO LIKE TO ASKED THE MINISTER OF HEALTH THROUGH YOUR DEPARTMENT ABOUT THEIR MEASURES TO REDUCE THE SCHOOL FEES STUDENTS IN THE HEALTH INSTITUTIONS PAY, CURRENTLY THE FEES ARE SO HIGH THAT ONLY THOSE IN THE HIGH CLASS CAN AFFORD. I AM THE SON OF A FARMER AND IS WORRIED THAT I MAY NOT BE ABLE TO COMPLETE CONSIDERING THE HIGH FEES WE ARE EXPECTED TO PAY.

  11. Sangber-Dery Cornelius says

    Hon.Minister,
    I think its a great strategy u & your team have by far employed to bridge the gap between mother Ghana & other technological world in terms of ICT.However,i must not hesitate to add that though its long over due,its better late than never.

    I employ you to take all criticism through this medium;good or bad in good faith.
    Also,its rather disappointing some of our youth are using it to pass lustful comments about your beauty & physique instead of the purpose its meant for.

    Please I would want to edge your Ministry to open more and better job opportunities,at least targeted at the youth,which in my view may held curb some of these needless attitudes.Thanks.

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