Tag Archives: ghana

Ghana ICT4D Resources

1. Ghana ICT4AD Policy  This policy was last updated in June 2003. Ghana’s ICT4AD policy is written in English. The Ministry of Communications drafted the policy.

2. The Ministry of Communications is responsible for implementing Ghana’s ICT4AD policy.

3. The Ghana Senior Schools Connectivity Project was an initiative of  USAID and The Ministry of Education and Global E-Schools and Communities Initiative (GESCI). Information about GESCI can be obtained in Ghana’s ICT for Education Policy, from November 2008. The Ghana Senior Schools Connectivity Project ran from August 2012 to July 2013.

4.  National E-Strategies for Development Global Status and Perspectives 2010, International Telecommunications Union. 

The PanAfrican Research Agenda on the Pedagogical Integration of ICTs, The OECD World Forum

Ghana ICT Sector Performance Review 2009/2010, Godfred Frempong. Sponsored by Research ICT Africa

The Global Information Technology Report 2012: Living in a Hyperconnected World, World Economic Forum

5.  Ghanians primarily speak English; therefore, it was simple to find research on their ICT policies. While the ICT4AD policy is a little outdates at this point, further research indicates that progress has made, especially in the realm of education. A separate policy briefing (linked above) explains Ghana’s goals for ICTs in education. 

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Preventing ICT Project Failure: Australia to Ghana

A recent topic of discussion amongst my classmates has been the failure of ICT4D projects and some of the reasons they typically fail. This video, from the ICT4D Poverty Reduction Summit in Winneba, Ghana, attributes failure to 7 major reasons.

It’s nearly impossible to disagree with the insight provided by these ICT professionals. However, a trend I’ve noticed is that many of the reasons we come up with are directed at the receiving end. For instance, we can attribute a project’s failure in Ghana to the lack of appropriate infrastructure in Ghana or the extensive costs of maintaining technology in Ghana. We don’t often analyze the failures on the giving end and, when we do, we’re mostly talking about flaws in perception or understanding. What if part of the problem is administration? What if there are technical issues on the giving end as well?

In a recent article from the IT section of one of Australia’s leading publications, Trevor Clarke discusses IT project failures and a new government standard for them. Clarke points out that over the years, IT market observers have been disappointed by the number of IT projects that have either failed completely or exceeded their budgets and/or deadlines. The new government standard is an attempt to increase efficiency and prevent failure on these projects. Of course, this refers only to domestically developed and implicated projects within Australia, but it just goes to show that when it comes to IT or ICT projects, failure does not discriminate. If ICT projects within a well-developed, first-world country often fail, we mustn’t be discouraged when the same happens in the third world.

However, that’s not to say there is no hope. With new initiatives like Australia’s new ICT governance standard, we can imitate their processes and procedures when we’re working in the developing world. Perhaps ICT4D professionals should attempt to develop a similar standard for their projects in places like Sub Saharan Africa or Latin America. Now, “if it worked there, it will work here” is not necessarily the type of philosophy development professionals should follow, but having some guidelines and sound advice won’t hurt. I think Australia’s ICT failures and imminent successes could help ICT4D professionals to learn from example.


Is Development Knowledge Exclusionary?

I do not mean to detract from the theme of the specific application of ICT for development, but since our last class I have found that I cannot stop thinking about our discussion of development theory and failure. In chapter 3 of ICT4D, Unwin relates how current discourses realize the flaws of modernization theory and its belief that development beneficiaries were to be the passive recipients of Western information, for it was inherently more valuable than any knowledge that they may have possessed. Development has now embraced a people- centered model that sees traditional knowledge systems and community based approaches as critical to the development process (Unwin 40). However, though development has primarily shifted from “top-down’ to ‘bottom- up”, local information is still lost in translation, and Western actors are regarded as the ‘experts’ who can bring development to where it is needed.

Development must absolutely embrace participatory projects, but it also needs to reassess the degree to which development projects can be created and sustained by members of a developing community themselves. For, in the end, isn’t one of the primary goals of development to empower the poor to be their own agents of social change? However, the nature of development can be prohibitive of such grassroots entrepreneurship. Consider this: proper development practice, as taught to students at universities like Tulane, requires an enormous amount of literacy on subjects like management, budget-making, organizational frameworks, and perhaps most importantly, monitoring and evaluation. I have seen first hand that these topics have become skills that we must possess to be development practitioners and to carry out successful projects. At the root of this, these skills are required so that we can obtain grants and partnerships to stay sustainable and garner attention from donors. I am not naïve enough to think that development does not require people with such abilities. Yet we seem to forget that development knowledge itself is not only a Western concept, but also a privilege that many in the developing world cannot access. For example, how could a woman who has started her own village empowerment group write a monitoring and evaluation report for a grant-maker if she does not have more than a 6th grade education? Does this mean that she does not deserve a grant? Does her inability to send the grant-maker a 3-year strategic framework plan mean that her organization will fail?

My point is that development needs to go beyond cultivating practitioners in the first world. As we recognize that those who have lived their entire lives in impoverished areas know the most about what they need, we need to take the full step and embrace the fact that these individuals are perfectly capable of coming up with and executing a project on their own, although it may be in ways that lie in the margins of standard development practice. By this I mean that organizations such as the school I worked for in Ghana have found ways to sustain themselves for nearly a decade with little to no grant money per year and hardly any assistance from larger educational organizations or agencies (i.e. UNESCO). There is no M&E plan, institutional documentation is poorly organized, and the founder has not had more than a basic education, but hundreds, if not more than a thousand impoverished children have received a free basic education over the last decade and many have been given the opportunity to continue their studies at a higher level. If this is not ‘successful’ development, I do not know what it is. More importantly, it occurs informally, in a very Ghanaian context, in a Ghanaian way of doing things. This is important to realize when reflecting upon Mchoumbu’s point that “traditional channels of communication [should be] respected and not regarded as barriers to development” (Unwin 41). Development practitioners, grant-makers, and other Western actors must understand that practice and communication are culturally contingent and that seemingly improper conventions have merit in their own right. What must not occur in development is that a practitioner requires a local development worker to do A, B, and C, but that they adapt their own practice to local practice. Furthermore, a local entrepreneur cannot be excluded because they do not do things ‘by the book’. There is no room in development to be exclusionary; rather, we must take these locally made ideas and run with them, even if they do not fit status quo development protocol. These are the manners of doing things that reflect a culture and tell of the true needs of a society, and we have much to learn from how they may have been carried out before we try to change their execution.


Ghana’s National ICT Policy Focuses on WSIS’s Objectives

The World Summit for Information Society’s National e-Strategies for Development are guidelines for countries to incorporate into their national development plans. These guidelines offer insight into why some countries have failures in terms of ICTs and others are more successful. Specifically, the strategies focus on infrastructure, access, capacity-building, diverse language identity, ethics, cooperation, media, confidence and security, enabling environments and multiple applications (sectors). Typically, the strategies offer a future-oriented approach.

The methodology of the report is comprehensive. The “data” provided is qualitative. It outlines first what the action item is, a description of the item, followed by countries’ policy examples. It looks at specific countries’ policies to determine whether the WSIS strategies have been incorporated or not.

I think the WSIS strategies are great in helping countries focus on areas of improvement for ICTs. Looking at Ghana, every one of the line action items are mentioned within its National ICT policy. However, there is great importance placed on infrastructure and enabling environment. Infrastructure is mentioned in two of the eleven plans for policy change. The policy focuses both on the under-developed physical infrastructure and the poor and limited communications and telecommunications infrastructure that Ghana has. The action item, Enabling Environments , means to set up an environment that supports ICTs via eliminating barriers or in Ghana’s case, improving physical and communications infrastructure. The environment and infrastructure work together in Ghana’s policy.

Human capacity building, ICT-applications, media and the rest of the action items are mentioned to some capacity in Ghana’s national ICT policy. However it is ironic that Ghana’s policy is from 2003 while the e-Strategies for Development came out in 2010.


Ghana National ICT Resources

1. The Ghana ICT For Accelerated Development Policy is the National ICT policy that was passed in 2003. The government states its main goal is “A policy statement for the realization of the vision to transform Ghana into an information-rich knowledge-based society and economy through the development, deployment, and exploitation of ICTs within the economy and society.” The policy is written in English and the Ministry of Communications is the major stakeholder.

2. Ghana Ministry of Communications is in charge of implementing much of the ICT reforms and regulations that are happening in the country. This is the homepage which branches off from the National government website.

3. Global Information Technology Report 2012: Living in a Hyper Connected World by The World Economic Forum provides detailed data on Ghana and the entire world.

An overview of Ghana’s media and technology is a brief explanation and data collection for ICTs in the country and their use. Not produced by the government, but by Audience Scapes

Will Ghana be able to fully utilize ICT is a great article written for a Ghanian news site by Stephen Atta Owusu.

4. Because Ghanians speak English it was relatively easy to find their policies, reforms, and news about ICT. There is a very real movement to improve ICT in the country, so there is a large amount of writing on the subject.


iREAD Pilot Project in Ghana

I read about a project from the WorldReader e-Reader Pilot in Ghana.   As part of the Millennium Development Goals to achieve universal education, the project distributed e-reader technology to Ghanaian primary, junior and senior school students.  After extensive evaluation of the iREAD (Impact on Reading of E-readers and Digital content) Ghana Pilot Study showed much of the projects initial success as well as challenges to address in the future.  The e-reader allowed students to gain immediate access to academic and personal reading material including books, textbooks, magazines and various articles.  Access to these materials allowed students to a have greater number of texts, which were previously limited to the resources available in their local library.  On average, students had 107 books on their e-reader over the course of the project.  The initiative also put a large emphasis on Ghanaian books, allowing students to gain access to culturally relevant information as well as outside resources.   In addition to the immediate impact on students, teachers also reaped benefits by accessing current textbooks and carry out research to prepare lessons rather than relying on outdated and limited textbooks.

The outcome of the pilot study revealed the project increased student’s enthusiasm about reading and simultaneously allowed students to develop useful ICT skills.  Students in primary school exhibited improved standardized tests scores, while older students did not display significant gains as a result of the technology.  Unexpected challenges in the project included technical problems with the e-reader (about 40% of the e-readers broke), which hindered the long-term success of the project. In addition, the article also suggests that a lack of ICT knowledge and low literacy rates led to the accidental deletion of material and an increased distraction from its entertainment functions.

While the project has initially revealed some promising results, several common challenges (breakages, literacy, electricity, Internet) stand in the way of the e-readers practicality and sustainability to increase literacy rates and improve educational opportunities in the developing world.

For a more thorough analysis of the iREAD project in Ghana, please check out this link.


Women in ICT- Focus on Ghana

In the National ICT policy for Ghana there was a strong focus on making an extra effort to include women and girls in ICT education, employment, and benefits. We discussed in class the gap between ownership and use of ICTs in men and women from Africa, but beyond that I wanted to know about employment and empowerment. In reading about the Gender Gap in Africa I was curious as to how specifically in Ghana this was being dealt with too.This year, Ghana has shown a commitment to bridging the Gender Gap by creating “Girls in ICT Day”. This government sponsored idea was implemented by the Minister of Communication in Ghana (who is in charge of ICT policy) in order to keep female equality a major part of the ICT development. The day encouraged women to continue to strive for high positions in the ICT world and never think that they were not intellectual or capable enough to do so. Because of the exisiting Gender roles in Ghana, most women spend their time doing chores indoors with the mothers, and boys are encouraged to seek outside employment. Madam Eva Lokko, an ICT Consultant, has many suggestions to increase the amount of women in ICT including more elementary ICT education in schools, subsidizing education fees for women, and creating workshops just for girls about software and technology. These ideas are important because as we saw it is not just that women are less likely than men to use ICTs, it is the compounding social factors that affect women more adversely that have kept women from achieving higher roles in ICT development and use.

This event was meant to bring awareness to the issue of gender in ICT and also inspire young women. A big part of the day was the field trip component, thirty girls were taken from Accra elementary schools to go on field trips to the Ministry of Defense to see air fleets and ICT in the military, The Ghana Telecom University where they got to talk via teleconference to past students in Denmark, and to a radio show. It seems like a great way to early on get girls interested in ICT related fields and provide support for female empowering initiatives. Also, when looking through pictures of the event, the young girls seemed absolutely thrilled by this opportunity!

 

sites used- GirlsinIct.org Makeeverywomancount.org