#BlogCamp14

Monday, 31 December 2012

A Round-up of a Very Eventful 2012

The year 2012 is just under two hours of receding into history. Since it's been a loaded year, it would be improper to let it pass without a recap of notable events or activities undertaken. In no particular order, here are some highlights of my 2012:

Vodafone Broadband in Keta
The year started on a good note. It was finally possible for individuals and organisations in my town to sign up for Vodafone's broadband Internet service. I quickly applied and by February, I started surfing to my heart's delight. My joy's been cut off twice due to the theft of the copper cables that delivered last-mile connectivity. As I blog, the service has not be restored after the second interruption. Oh! :(.

Diplo Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme
I got a scholarship from Diplo Foundation to pursue an online course in Introduction to Internet Governance, as part of their Capacity Building Programme for citizens of developing countries. Through the course, I got a better appreciation of the power of the Internet as a tool for social change and the different positions on how the global platform should be managed. It was also a great opportunity to experience online education first hand and to network with other emerging African leaders in field. My appreciation goes to Godfred Ahuma, who encouraged me to apply, Stephen Nii Adjei Sowah, one of my Ghanaian coursemates, Marsha Guthrie, my tutor, Stephanie Psaila and Ginger Paque for making the experience worthwhile for me. It was unfortunate though that we could not organise Ghana Internet Governance Forum in 2012. I hope that changes next year

Ghana Decides
If you've been following this blog closely, you'd notice that a lot has been said about BloggingGhana's Ghana Decides project and its drive to engender youth engagement in Ghana's civic affairs. Through various campaigns, workshops and discussions, we captured the diverse needs of youth groups, disability self-help groups, women candidates and other voices often drowned out in our politics. One beautiful thing about Ghana Decides project is that aside the core team, Ghana's online community contributed actively and this crystallised its success. Today, we have a machine that could morph into an accountability and community mobilisation initiative. Whatever, it becomes it's all back to the community! 

BlogCamp Ghana
BloggingGhana finally moved the BlogCamp talk to action, and the result was the biggest and most interesting social media event held in Ghana to date. Edward Tagoe and the BlogCamp team's vim was the main propelling force behind this astounding success, as many young Ghanaians for the first time found out how they could make their voices heard through social media. Watch out for BlogCamp 2013.

BarCamp Ghana
GhanaThink Foundation has been organising barcamps in Ghana since 2008, but in 2012 there was a record. Eight barcamps in seven regions. Unprecedented! I attended six of those- Takoradi, Sunyani, Cape Coast, Ho, Tema and Accra. This makes 2012 my most 'barcamped' year. Also, I had the opportunity of introducing some of my students from the Writers and Debaters Club of Keta Senior High Technical School to barcamps, showcasing how the unconference model can inspire learning and encourage creativity among youngsters. Guess what? They got hooked and are now busy planning their own "Junior Camp" as part of their 60th Anniversary SRC week celebration. More Vim!

ICT, Digital Literacy and Education
There were many opportunities to further efforts in this space as ICTs have become increasingly crucial tools for education, business and development. Due to their growing ubiquity, there's no excuse, really, not to take advantage of what they have to offer. Like I've been saying around: "we must use the tools we have to solve the problems we face." And where we don't have these tools, we have to strive to make them. Here are a few programmes that I was involved in, one way or the other:
To sum, 2012 has been packed and productive. Let's look forward to the new year, with faith and hope that our plans and dreams will be brought to life. I'm looking forward to a great 2013 and wish the same for you. Happy New Year, Happy New You!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Give a Little of Yourself this Christmas: Give Blood, Save Lives

Give someone the gift of life this Christmas by donating a little bit of your blood
BloggingGhana has joined health NGO St. Andrew's Clinics for Children, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) and the Korle-Bu blood bank to organise a blood donation drive this Christmas season. This is in response to the limited supply of blood at the blood centre and increased demand at this time of the year. It is revealing to know that there are only 80 units of blood available, compared to the 200 units needed, forcing officials to contemplate closing down the bank.

According to one of the organisers, the enterprising Maame Aba Daisie:
This period is the most tasking for the blood bank. Having them close down means families with emergencies are going to have to look within themselves for eligible donors. 
I encourage everyone to support this laudable initiative by donating  blood. The dates are 22nd and 24th December at the Korle-Bu Blood Centre and 27th and 28th December at NMIMR, located on the University of Ghana campus. 

You can also support the campaign by sharing the information widely on social media especially Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtags #GiveBlood and #savealife on Twitter.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Turning Failure into Success at BarCamp Accra 2012

The BarCamp movement in Ghana gathered steam this year, with seven events spread over Takoradi, Kumasi, Sunyani, Tamale, Cape Coast, Ho and Tema. The year's inspiring mix of one-on-one mentoring interactions, breakout sessions, panels and demos will be climaxed this Saturday, 22nd December, 2012 at the Dansoman Campus of Methodist University College of Ghana (MUCG).

Administration block of MUCG. Source: ghanaschoolsnet.com
BarCamp Accra 2012 focuses on "removing fear of failure as a start of success." The notion of failure in business and personal life will be explored and measures needed to bounce back onto the road of success will be shared by selected mentors and resource persons. According to the official press release,
The Accra event will take a national stature with a large number of attendees also expected to be Ghanaians who live abroad. We hope to assemble Accra stakeholders to network, build a supportive enterprising community and partner to build together. We will start with the popular speed mentoring sessions with various young Ghanaian achievers. Selected resource personnel will be sharing and leading discussions on failure, removing the fear of failure and how we can fail our way to success in our newly introduced success sessions. We will have breakout sessions on topics of your choice as usual.  
By all means, head to the BarCamp Accra eventbrite registration page and register now to attend this awesome event.

BarCamp Accra 2012 is organised by GhanaThink Foundation, with support from Methodist University College Ghana, Google Ghana, Ghana Decides, BloggingGhana, MUCG-GDG, Hatua Solutions, Nandimobile, Leti Games, Fienipa,SpyGhana, Ghana News Agency, Modern Ghana, Joy 99.7 FM and CITI FM.

See you on Saturday!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Ghana Election 2012: A Digital Walk-through

Tomorrow is election day in Ghana, my country. A lot has been going on on the Internet and social media this year with regards to campaigning and civic activism. The main goal is to whip up the enthusiasm of the youth for the elections and in matters of governance. Today's been very quiet, compared to previous days, when we were inundated incessantly with campaign messages. I've been through different towns- Accra, Ho, Keta, Aflao and Tema. Politics is heavy everywhere! A lot has been written about social media's relevance in the elections too.

Issues 

Kwesi Acquah put together the wordle below to capture some of the key things Ghanaians have been discussing leading to the elections:

Ghana Elections 2012 Wordle. Credit: Kwesi Acquah (@kwesiacquah)
I created this other one using content from ghanadecides.com at worditout.com:

Ghana Elections 2012 Wordle created using content from ghanadecides.com
Obviously, personality and party issues are intertwined with the real issues of the people.

Civic Activism

BloggingGhana, through its Ghana Decides project, has been at the helm of using the Internet and social media to engender more discussions and actions around the elections. Aljazeera recently hosted the team on its renowned social media show, Stream. Ghana Decides' latest campaign, Our Vote, Our Voice, seeks to get Ghanains to pledge to vote in December.


African Elections Project has also deployed new media tools to collect citizen reports, via Ushahidi, to ensure that the elections are credible. They're also providing social media training and coverage on election issues.

Google Student Ambassadors also recently run My Voice GH series to express their views on various issues that affect their day-to-day lives.

There are other groups doing some work in their own right.

Software Tools

It is always heartwarming to see the developer community invent tools that address the direct needs of the community. This syncs well with a personal mantra: "we must use the tools we have to solve the problems we face." Here are a few of them.

VoteKast Afrika: Collates results and Displays them in graphical format as they come in.

Ghana Vote Compass: An interesting tool that tries to predict your political leanings based on your inputs. This tool might be handy for those who haven't made up their minds yet.

The 2012 elections in Ghana will be closely fought. It is interesting to see the Internet and social media play a significant role in it for the first time.

Are there any campaigns or apps that you know pertaining to the elections? Please don't hesitate to share!