Friday, 27 April 2012

BloggingGhana Organises First Ghana BlogCamp

BlogCamp Ghana logo

BloggingGhana, Ghana's biggest group of bloggers and social media enthusiasts presents a day of workshops and networking dubbed BlogCamp Ghana 2012. I will encourage everyone who can to attend this event as I can testify to how social media has changed my worldview and improved my life. BlogCamp 2012 indeed gives voice to the new generation!

Exchange of ideas during January 2012 meeting

BlogCamp seeks to educate and inform attendees on the benefits of social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and blogs. Further, BlogCamp 2012 will demonstrate how the youth can leverage the power of social media for positive social change, good governance, accountability, technology, business and education; this will ensure that there is more online content from Africa. BlogCamp 2012 will also be used to launch Ghana’s first Social Media Awards scheme, aimed at rewarding various activists and contributors to the growth of social media in Ghana. Visit the BlogCamp Agenda page for further details.

BlogCamp 2012 has been made possible through the efforts of the BloggingGhana Community and the kind support of our partners: Vodafone, Google, United States Embassy, Nandimobile, Web4Africa, Citi 97.3 Fm, Mawuli Sikanku Photography and REDD Kat Pictures.
Enter your details into the BlogCamp 2012 registration page to be part of this wonderful programme. For more information, visit the BlogCamp Ghana website or connect with BloggingGhana through Twitter, Facebook or Google +. We will be posting with the hash tags #BlogCamp12 and #BloggingGhana. Send your inquiries and we will get back to you immediately. Be part of BlogCamp 2012, Voice of a New Generation!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Ghanaian Developers Put Python and Other Technologies in Action

A cross-section of Ghana’s developer community gathered at BusyInternet, Accra, last Saturday, 14th April as part of Coders4Africa (C4A)’s monthly Coders in Action series. This month’s event was put together in collaboration with Python African Tour (PAT), and focus was naturally on using Python and allied technologies to build useful applications for Africa and beyond. It was a day of fun presentations, demos and networking that reiterated the tremendous progress that is being built in the Ghanaian tech community. Present on the day were established and emerging tech leaders such as Emmanuel Okyere (Hutspace), Adu Saarah-Mensah (PaasCo Africa) and Jojoo Imbeah (Suuch solutions). Selom Kossi Banybah, Ghana Technical Manager for C4A coordinated affairs for the day.

Pre-event interactions
The programme kicked off with introductory remarks by Kwame Andah (via Skype) of C4A and Gameli Adzaho of PAT. Kwame spoke about the essence of the C4A programme, their joy at collaborating with PAT and closed by giving hints on upcoming training opportunities. Gameli also gave an overview of Python African Tour, their activities so far, what the next plans of the tour in Ghana are (planned training events in Cape Coast and possibly another in Accra). All the attendees then took turns to introduce themselves and explain their connections to the Python language.

After the introductory remarks, the main presentations took off but not as planned as Anne Mukundi of PopKenya speaking from Nairobi, could not highlight on PHP Code Ignitor as she was impeded by intermittent breaks in the Internet connection. 

Francis Addai enjoying his presentation on Pyramid
Back home, PAT Kumasi co-organiser and mFriday Training Coordinator Francis Addai showed participants how to play with Pyramid, a Python Framework. Taking time to explain key advantages of Pyramid, chiefly its flexibility and versatility, Francis could not hide his love for the framework. He rounded up his talk by demoing how he is using Pyramid to build Geekry, a system that would allow developers to give and receive feedback, giving them the impetus to improve the quality of their work. 

After Francis’ great presentation, PAT Ghana trainer/organizer and CEO of Hutspace, Emmanuel Okyere, took the stage to showcase RapidSMS, another Python web application framework based on the Django. RapidSMS, he said, originally developed by UNICEF and it extends the capabilities of Django for SMS handling. Emmanuel went on to showcase sample apps developers can build with the tool, emphasizing that there are lots of opportunities they can exploit using RapidSMS. 

Emmanuel walking attendees through RapidSMS
Next, another PAT Ghana trainer, Kweku Danso of ilugi, stepped up to demo Showcase, a web application that, true to its name, showcases software built in Ghana on the web. He and his team mates, Jojoo Imbeah and Henry Addo, built Showcase using the Django Python framework. Kweku’s goal for Showcase is to be a one-stop shop for finding all the latest software developed in Ghana.

 Another brilliant young dynamic developer, Kwabena Antwi-Boasiako of Parallax Consult, then took over from Kweku to demo his innovation, Gspeaks, which aggregates the most interesting online stories Ghanaians care about. Gspeaks appears to be highly targeted version of Reddit aimed at the Ghanaian web user. Kwabena built his app with Ruby on Rails, an agile framework similar to the Python frameworks.

Finally, Ransford Okpoti rounded up events for the day through a short presentation on Google App Engine. He started by explaining the meaning of cloud computing concepts IaaS, PaaS and SaaS, pointing out the key offerings in each category. He then plunged into the Google App Engine, showing how developers can leverage on Google’s infrastructure to seamlessly deploy their apps on the Internet. He explained that using the cloud service was more advantageous to lean teams as they may not have the time or technical expertise to manage multiple servers on site.
Sarsah and Kweku discussing what next after the event
After Ransford was done, group pictures were taken and a brilliant day grudgingly came to an end as attendees stayed on a bit to network, give feedback, ask questions and discuss ideas. Truly, the Ghanaian tech scene is buzzing with useful activity as exhibited by another splendid day of learning and skills building facilitated by Python African Tour and Coders4Africa. It can only get better.
Group picture at the end of the programme

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Biometric Voter Registration in Keta, Ghana: How I Registered

Ghana will be going to the polls this December to elect a new president and members of parliament. As part of preparations for the election the electoral commission (EC) is undertaking a fresh voter registration exercise using biometric technology. The adoption of a Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system has become crucial in order to minimise electoral fraud, and to ensure that whoever emerges victor is the true choice of the people.

What is biometric registration and how will it be done? I believe the video below explains the process quite well:

I registered on Easter Sunday at the Abidjan station polling station at Tegbi near Keta. Contrary to reports of a tedious registration process, characterised by long queues, from some parts of Ghana, my experience was pretty smooth. In fact, one woman who was almost done with penning down her name was the only other registrant at the centre when I got there. It took no more than ten minutes to get my brand new voters ID card.

Going through the Biometric Voter Registration exercise at Tegbi-Keta in the Volta Region
 The staff of the EC were professional and friendly. They took the trouble to answer all my curious and probing questions. From them, I got to know that I was the thirty-second person to register on that day. They're not facing any major technical glitches. Hopefully, as the Easter festivities have ended, more people would go to register in order to participate in the national elections.

Which card is better? The old one or the new one? #iRegistered
 So, I have my voters ID card, and the power to elect our next leaders, in my hands now. There are many issues to weigh before casting that vote, before determining the direction that Ghana should go in the next four years. The conversations have began. Ghana Decides, a BloggingGhana Election project seeks to promote these important conversations on social media channels. Starting with the iRegistered campaign,  their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + and Flickr pages reveal the amazing efforts being made to engage the youth ahead of this year's elections. Hopefully the often ignored voices of youth, women, physically-challenged and other socially-excluded groups will count during the elections through their efforts.  Refreshingly, the likes of Mashable, AJstream, GlobalVoices, Ghana News Agency and the government portal are following keenly what the youth of Ghana are trying to achieve using social media.

For now, I will keep a keen eye on events as they unfold and make my choices based on the real issues, the issues that I and others around me face. Just like every other Ghanaian would do. Go and register if you have not done so yet. Like the cliche goes, "your vote is your power!"