From Technology in a Wireless WSIS

Emmanuel.K. Bensah Jr. has 59 followers on Google Buzz

Friday, February 15, 2008

Showcasing Ghana 2008 with ICT (I)

I had thought that given that it has been exactly a week since Sulley Muntari saved Ghana from disgrace at the 90th minute in the Ghana-Guinea game, normalcy would set in. Then I remembered that as Leonardo di Caprio’s character as a mercenary in Blood Diamonds said to an inquisitive American journalist investigating those diamonds, TIA-- or “This is Africa”.

More specifically, “This is Ghana”, where there are variations of normalcy as far as soccer is involved, but even more so, when football comes home. It is clear that on the ICT front, given the enthusiasm surrounding CAN2008 and the matches, there will continue to be more text messaging than ever.

Last Friday when I was leaving the office for home, I overheard a colleague exclaim to another that “I’ll call you when [Ghana] wins”, adding shortly after that “as for that, I can spare my credits!” Undoubtedly, the camaraderie created by the soccer fiesta is a magnificent reminder of how you most definitely do not need NOKIA to connect people via ICT (tools)!

Whilst we are making a lot of noise about showcasing Ghana, might we turn to some of existing sites out there helping to do just that.

Everywhere You Go
It’s true—it’s everywhere you go; they’ve even got a yellow un-flyable plane at the Tetteh-Quarshie interchange – but they are there. They also happen to be headline sponsors of Ghana’s national team--the Black Stars. Not all is necessarily bad on the MTN front, however. On your mobile phone—through GPRS—you can visit the company’s website There, you can see summary of results of the latest game, including the score line, and a commentary of how the game went as it was being played.

The London-based Guardian website’s football page on is also a place to check. I don’t know which news site started the ball-by-ball commentary first, but I re-call that in the 2006 World Cup, those monitoring the Ghanaian games for the Guardian site brought a whole different feel to their game. Coverage of The Cup of African Nations is no exception—for the website, considered one of the most popular online newspapers around, is sure to thrill. You can also get in on your mobile by going to

Last June, I opted to leave the oft-inanity of Ghanaian radio to listen more to the BBC World Service. I knew I was right in doing so—as are many BBC listeners, who know they are getting unparalleled quality news and commentary when they listen to news or sport. Just to highlight: a colleague, disappointed by the lack of running commentary for GTV’s coverage of the Ghana-Guinea game last Sunday, decided he’d stick with the station and listen to the commentary from no other than the BBC World Service’s station on 101.3FM.

All that said, accessing CAN2008 score lines and reading up about the tournament on your mobile may prove to be a bit more challenging for your mobile. This is because whereas you can access BBC’s African football website on an easy-to-remember URL like, on your mobile, it’s no walk in the park; it’s more like a run through badly-cut grass:! Once you get there, simply click on “Africa Cup of Nations 2008”, and get access to the best of BBC Sport.

Finally, Ghana almost passes the online test with the official website. Small trick, however, is that you need to access that site via this URL: The site is not designed specifically to accommodate mobile phones, hence the need to add the “PHP” extension, which is optimal for computer-based (HTML) web browsers. If you’re looking for news, pictures, and more, you are sure to find it here. Small caveat on the pictures is that the output will be optimized if your phone has a 640X480 or VGA screen, or higher.

Government is Coming Home!
Forget the fact that the ever-popular social networking tool that is FACEBOOK is all the rage these days. Be afraid; be very afraid -- for government is coming closer to home than you might ever want it to. Over-the-moon by the opportunities inherent in the so-called Web 2.0 world that we live in now, where social networking is globalised, and where everyone can connect together in some sort of digital exuberance, Western governments are leaving behind e-government, and replacing it with Web 2.0.

The managing director and COO of Government Insights that came out with a report about this trend says: “Gov 2.0 will replace e-gov as governments seek to gain additional value from citizen interaction and business transactions.” Inevitably, the cue here is the interactivity enshrined in the Web 2.0, which governments are keen to exploit. I specifically use “exploit”, because there’s a double-edged sword inherent within this trend. To me as a private individual, it’s screaming “where’s my privacy!.” I can expect, however, that those seeking to implement it are thinking that it will foster “greater participation and dialogue with citizens.”

What I can personally tell you about the experience with Facebook is that the more Web 2.0 applications are added to the system, the more it has put me off visiting—never mind using Facebook! Being bombarded by “Funwalls” and messages sent to “all friends” and being asked to send imaginary drinks to friends no longer becomes a boon to the pretenders of tech-“savviness”! I can very well imagine government departments adding so many applications to their websites to “enhance dialogue with citizens” they end up eating their own tail, and realizing that Web 2.0 just might be the future—but not for governments.

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