News / Africa

Ghana Politicians Using Social Media to Reach Out to Voters

Joana Mantey
Only an estimated four percent of the people in Ghana use the internet. But the sector has immense potential for growth and tremendous mass appeal, especially among young people in urban areas.

The non-profit organization Blogging Ghana is using internet-based technology to raise awareness among young people about general elections on December 7. The effort is being funded in part by Star Ghana, another non-profit working to increase civil society’s involvement in the government

Program manager Ibrahim Tanko said the project is especially popular among university students.

He said discussions among students are streamed live on Facebook and Twitter.  The social media tools provide venues for the dialogue to continue long after the program ends.

Tanko said the sites offer politicians a way to reach the electorate in both a direct and indirect way.

“[People are] indirectly reached in the sense that somebody tweets information, you also pick it up and re-tweet and a third person picks it up,” he said.

Tanko said most young people are apathetic about political rallies.  However, social media platforms are helping to move political discussions to them rather than asking youths to attend.

“They get involved by contributing,"he said. "And you will hear people say, ‘Initially I didn’t want to vote but after having participated in this discussion on education, I think I want to make my voice heard’ “

Another project funded by Star Ghana helps set up early-warning systems to check electoral fraud.  It combines the use of social media and text messaging via mobile phones.

Tanko said in this program, tell-tale signs about electoral fraud are flagged and sent to security agencies.

“The early-warning system is modeled around what was used in Kenya called the Moshahidi," he said. "So it kind of provides a platform where people can send in messages either via SMS or Facebook.  When these are verified, they are collated and sent to the right authorities”

The project is run by the company Pen Plus Bytes (written as PenPlusBytes) which teaches journalists how to use communication and internet technologies in their jobs.
Most of the country’s political parties are also harnessing the power of social media to enrich their debates and win polls. 

Papa Kwesi Ndoum of the Progressive People’s Party has about 160,000 “likes” on his Facebook account.

Nana Akufo Addo of the New Patriotic Party shares videos from his campaign and encourages party donations on Facebook, Twitter and Google Hangouts.
Ghana’s president John Mahama has 26,000 “likes” on his Facebook.

But it is uncertain whether social media will have a major effect on the outcome of elections.

George Lawson, the deputy general secretary of the National Democratic Congress, said "most of our communities are not connected to the national [electricity] grid.  I believe in moving from place to place and reaching out to the people.  We’ve not gotten to the stage where social media will dominate our political activities.”

Overall, Lawson said, the impact of social media on the elections will be insignificant, considering the low rates of literacy in rural communities.
Listen to report on Ghana elections
Listen to report on Ghana electionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs