Thursday, March 29, 2007

Interview with Jonnie Akakpo

Jonnie Akakpo, chairman of GINKS, presented the results of an action-research on political mobilisation of ICTs in Ghana during the African e-gov conference in Accra. The action research took place in two communities in Northern Region as part of the Log-in Africa program of the UNDP. It departs from the idea that there are opportunities for changing modes of governance through ICTs. These opportunities will remain unexploited if the citizenry is not capacitated to use those opportunities. The video is almost 4 minutes. A summary is presented here in text:

What were the most surprising results of your action research in two communities in the Northern Region of Ghana?

There were no real surprises because we know the communities already. The most surprising thing was the attitude of the leaders, the inability of our leaders to engage with projects trying to improve their systems. They were never there and were a little hostile.

What innovative approaches do you have in mind, given the challenges in the Northern Region?

We thought about internet access points where people can engage parliament or the castle in real time, but we realized this was going to be more expensive than anticipated. Given the constraints, we are not thinking of purposely collecting information from the communities and making this information available to government.

We identified a large mass of illiterate people, who can engage with a medium like radio. We think that they should have a feel of computers too. So we thought about an information kiosk, which is not an innovation in itself. As a first step the project will provide computers and internet access with capacity building for community members so that they can start engaging with their parliamentarians.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Interview about GAINS

We did an interview with Clement Entsua-Mensah, Director of CSIR-NSTI about the experiences of the Ghana Agriculture Information Network Systems. The video is about 7 minutes long. Here's a summary of the interview:

Question: What is the objective of GAINS?

To provide information support to the agricultural sector, the research and academic community.

Question: How many institutes do you work with?

13 research institutes, 5 faculties of agriculture and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Question: In how far have you achieved your objective?

GAINS has been able to provide for the information needs of the research and academic community with the help of CTA, IICD and KIT the Netherlands. We provide databases for researchers, and other stakeholders including farmers and extension workers. One problem we had is that we can not provide information to the farmers, but have relied on intermediaries like FM community radio stations and agricultural information centers.

Question: How have the databases helped the researchers and extension workers to do their work?

The Ghana Agricultural Information Research Database is a historical database with regards to journals and articles. Most of the times we only have the abstracts. Often researchers want the full text then we order it for them. We use the TILL database, if the article is not there we search in the other databases, otherwise we go to KIT in the Netherlands.

Question: What would you advise a similar project in another country?

GAINS' experience shows that building a network should start from the building blocks, the partner institutions. Once the partners buy into the idea, they become more committed and feel part of it. We had a situation where the coordinating centre had to go out and encourage the partner organisations. Some institutes were more endowed than others. We had to advocate for resource for them to participate more effectively. As far as other organisations are concerned: building a network requires commitment of the partner institutions.

Question: What would you do differently next time?

Next time we'd have to sign contracts and get stakeholders and partner institutions to be seen as shareholders. Have to give some input and then you can reap some benefit. As partners there must be an input and output.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Ghana Information Network for Knowledge Sharing (GINKS), an ICT and knowledge sharing network finds it interesting and necessary to have a blog to share with members in the ICT4D community.
This blog will feature ICT4D stories in Ghana and will create links to the website of the network.GINKS blog will regularly be updated after every forthnight and we invite everybody to read from this post.