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Exploiting The Internet In Governance- An Example

Sat, 5 Jan 2013 Source: Mankra, Kwame

The 2012 elections are over, with or without court cases. And John Dramani Mahama will remain President of the Republic till 2017.

Many issues account for the election victory of John Mahama. Of the many contributions, the 'youth factor' could not be insignificant.

On 14th December, curiosity led me to a press conference organised by the Yaw Ampofo Ankrah led Movement for Mahama. It coincided with the launch of a government projects tracking portal called www.betterghanaprojects.com. The press conference, in my opinion, did two things- thank Ghanaians for voting for John Mahama, and to prompt the NDC to start work towards the 2016 elections.

Given the sweetness of the electoral feat in 2012, the charisma of President John Mahama, and the arduous task of delivering on the electoral campaigns of 2012, it is feared that youthful, brilliant and innovative governance solutions introduced during the 2012 elections will be put on the back-burner. This is where i share the beliefs of the Movement for Mahama.

To say the NDC won the elections on a silver platter is a lie. Despite the abundance of folly in the NPP leadership, they were and will remain a formidable political force. The NPP 2012 campaign thrived on wild and 'free' promises, President Kufuor's record in government and a communication team made up of 'babies and evil dwarfs' with very sharp teeth. The robustness of the NPP communication team and the heavenly image they presented to Ghanaians about Kufour's eight (8) year rule is weighty enough for my next article.

In spite of winning, the NDC has as its greatest problem what the NPP has in abundance - a pliable sympathetic Ghanaian media, an effective and efficient communication team, and a system that fails to appropriately track and publicise developmental activities across the country.

Long before the elections, the NDC decided to mount the 2012 elections on Prof Mills' record of performance in government. In pursuit of same, appointees of government started highlighting achievements in specific industries. The construction of 1700 classrooms for schools which hitherto run under tress or had no classrooms, was one such specific achievement. Strangely, when the NDC was asked to produce the list of 'schools under trees', confusion set in. Subsequent attempts at providing proof rather generated spoofs which could have hurt the party!

Looking at www.betterghanaprojects.com, it cannot be false that over 1700 new classroom blocks have been built for first cycle institutions across the country. The website has data covering only 67 MMDA's and a total of over 700 such new constructions is evident from these 67 MMDA's. This figure is distinct and separate from other project categories such as School Building Rehabilitations, New Library constructions, Additional Classroom Blocks ( additional blocks for 2nd cycle schools) etc.

Going into President Mahama's first term in government, the 2016 elections and beyond, it is important that gaffes, as was experienced in the School Under Trees issue do not recur, and this is where I charge the Movement for Mahama to do the following: • Mutate quickly into a Pressure Group that meticulously 'checks' President Mahama's electoral promises and report the minutest achievement through the (www.betterghanaprojects.com) platform. • Tweak the website to reflect some continuity in the governance experiment instead of an election winning tool. For the NDC government, adopting the betterghanaprojects website and reconfiguring it would be a very wise move. The reasons are many including: • The world has moved on from paper and books. No book will ever be big enough to accurately record government achievements. • It removes the problem of physical localisation - the internet is a fluid tool to bringing the remotest parts of the world into focus. • Any set IT database is easier to update than any other mode of communicating government achievements. • Governance is a tangible project. Where pictorial evidence exists for any stated achievements, it must be shown for all to see! • The betterghanaprojects website is already positioned as a good source of information on infrastructural projects at the MMDA's. Some modifications to the design and database are all that is needed to create a perfect tracking portal. To my lay mind, the promoters and designers of www.betterghanaprojects.com need to do something about the News In Brief and the Achievement Summary sections. The News-In-Brief needs constant updates and the Achievements Summary is difficult to follow unless one is very observant.

In conclusion, I urge all who have not seen this website to visit it. And of course, kudos to the designers and the promoters of the concept.

By Kwame Mankra

Email: kwamemankra@gmail.com

Columnist: Mankra, Kwame