The maiden edition of the ICT4D forum for the 2011 year came off on Thursday 26th February, 2011 at the Northern regional library. In attendance were members from the Female ICT Teachers Association (FICTTA), Ghana Library Board’s ITAP members, invited youth and the general public.
Opening the forum, the Team leader of Savana Signatures, Mr. John Stephen Agbenyo welcomed participants to the new venue for the ICT4D forum and commended members for their attendance and the contribution to the forum since its inception in the region.
He informed the participants that the forum was a monthly one organized by Savana Signatures on behalf of GINKS.
He went on to explain the activities of the two organizations and called on members to patronize the forum and to invite their friends for subsequent forums.
Mr. John Stephen Agbenyo explain that, the choice of the topic for the forum was as a result of the fact that, most youth in the last general elections were actively involved in electoral violence, thus the need for this forum to provide a platform to educate the youth.
Speaking on the topic, “The role of ICTs in preventing electoral violence”, Mr. Dominic Dery, a lecturer at the Tamale Polytechnic and a former District Electoral Officer of the Saboba District explained that electoral violence included the use of force by political parties or their supporters to intimidate opponents and threats to a democratic regime.
He added that, in some instances, violence is used to intimidate opponents in order to force them not to dare openly and freely express their choices of candidates; whilst in others, violence is manifested in the rigging of elections.
Mr. Dery opined that to ensure violent free and democratic elections, the election must be free, fair and transparent.
He indicated that ICT can promote the credibility of election results, and that it was high time Ghana, as a country
considers mainstreaming ICT fully into our electoral system. He indicated that one sure way ICT could promote election free violence in the near future in Ghana is through the introduction of the biometric register which will help to avoid multiple registrations and voting. He added that ICTs could contribute to the quick declaration of election results; thereby reducing the tension associated with delayed results and will eventually enhance the democratic process of Ghana.
The speaker went on to emphasize that ICT will enable the electorates to be regularly informed and kept abreast of all the activities surrounding the conduct of elections, thereby saving the people from unnecessary rumor and lies which can derail the peaceful atmosphere in the country. Mr. Dery was however quick to add that an irresponsible person or group of persons can use technology (ICT) to cause election violence as it occurred in Rwanda some years past.
He bemoaned the situations where media houses characterized by facilitating communication, information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design and collaboration on the World Wide Web. He stated that web 2.0 has Programs and services that allow new ways of using the internet which include allowing users to contribute content, edit WebPages, add comments, upload documents, images or videos and even add content to their personal websites.
He emphasised that web 2.0 is a much potential tool for rural development since it allows many people to share information and pictures, collaborate on documents such as reports, spreadsheets, and presentations and comment on activities.
He further identified income generation, advertising, free Online Training, increased access to relevant and up-to-date content, establishment of communities of Practice as well as remote collaboration and Networking as the other benefits of using google applications.(both the print and electronic) in Ghana tried to call results
of election in favour of their affiliated parties. Such an act can be a recipe for chaos and must be guarded against.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Dominic Dery stated that the most important watch word during elections is vigilance on the part of everybody. “People must be vigilant so as to prevent attempts at changing the decision of the electorates” he said.
The Northern Regional Librarian, Mr. Aaron Kuwuono, expressed his joy and satisfaction
at the discussion that took place and urged participants to patronize the library as it is a place where the general public could source information. He added that he was happy that the Library has this partnership with GINKS and Savana Signatures to organize the monthly ICT4D Forum at the Library.