New SMS platform to monitor Ghana’s 2012 election

The International Institute of ICT Journalism (Penplusbytes), has under its African Elections Project (AEP), established a Short Message Service(SMS) elections’ information service to enhance media and citizen participation in the electoral process.

Under the service, mobile phone users could subscribe by sending letters AEP to 1945. Once subscribed to the service, one would receive regular elections news updates and alerts before, during and after the December 7 general elections

The innovation is also aimed at ensuring the free-flow of information and knowledge around the December 7th elections, a release copied the Ghana News Agency by Penplusbytes, said on Thursday,

STAR-Ghana, a multi- donor pooled funding mechanism (Funded by DFID, DANIDA, EU and USAID) is collaborating with Penplusbytes to create the platform which seeks to provide constant, reliable, factual and timely information for the electorates.

The service in addition to keeping subscribers updated via SMS, citizens could contribute content to the system by reporting incidents on the elections from all parts of the country through the mobile short code number 7000 for MTN users and 1902 for Airtel, Tigo or Vodafone users.  All messages sent must start with the letters AEP, followed by the message.

According Ms Sandra Mills, Programme Associate at African Elections Project, “The incoming messages from the public go through stringent verification processes and are published on an elections’ incident map Adding, messages with security implications are transmitted to an elections early warning system”.

Mr Kojo Asante of Center for Democratic Development – Ghana/Coalition of Domestic Observers (CODEO), said, “CODEO is partnering this project because we want as many independent observers as possible and this SMS technology will enable the ordinary Ghanaian especially, the youth to have a role in the electoral observation process.”

He added that “the service will also enable the electorates to be educated about the process and make informed choices through the regular content that will be sent to them”.

Mr Kumah Drah of the Ghana Community Radio Network (GRCN),  also  expressed happiness about the innovative SMS system, saying  it would serve “our network very well as it will solve the problem of poor voice quality to our radio stations in some communities as a result of bad mobile network and the only avenue is text messages”.

Mr Kwesi  Amankwah, a subscriber to the SMS platform from Fiapre in the Brong Ahafo Region, expressing his excitement about the project, stated that “now I can easily text what I see happening around me about the elections campaign and I receive regular information about EC and I will get to know about the ongoing voter register exhibition through the SMS sent from AEP for instance. This is good and all citizens should subscribe to it”.

Source: GNA

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