Sunday, August 31, 2014

WACSI Calls for Appointment of Special ECOWAS Envoy on Ebola

PLEASE SIGN ON TO THIS CAMPAIGN

#Civil #Society Statement on the Current #Ebola Crisis in #West #Africa:

A Call for Appointment of #ECOWAS Special Envoy on #Ebola

In light of the current epidemic of the deadly #Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in #West #Africa, we the undersigned civil society organizations call on #ECOWAS member states to appoint a leading, influential, strong and knowledgeable West African physician or health professional as #ECOWAS Special Envoy on #Ebola.

The current epidemic, which has been characterized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the deadliest Ebola outbreak since this virus was discovered in 1976, has claimed the lives of at least 1,552 people in West Africa including many health officials. We applaud and support the brave work of the health officials who continue to put their lives at risk in the care of victims of #Ebola despite very difficult working environment. We stand in solidarity with our brothers, sisters, families, and communities who are battling for their lives and struggling to care for loved ones.

West African economies are feeling the impact of the world's worst outbreak of Ebola. Travel and trade restrictions are limiting the deployment of medical personnel, equipment and commodities adding to the deadly risk that the EVD already poses to the communities and the economies of the affected countries and the region. This epidemic has exposed the challenges of our public health system and our governance institutions.

The recently-released WHO roadmap predicts that 20,000 people may ultimately be infected in this outbreak. Therefore, the challenge ahead is steep and a lot of work has to be done to stem this dangerous situation.

Cross-border coordination and collaboration necessary to stem the spread of Ebola has been haphazard and chaotic. While closure of borders may provide short term relief, it is also an impediment to cross-border technical support and humanitarian assistance and has given rise to new food security challenges.

The challenge of the current epidemic calls for urgent, unified and concerted efforts by ECOWAS and the international community. The emergency meeting of ECOWAS currently being held in Accra provides an opportunity to work out actionable and effective modalities to address the Ebola crisis. The regional body is uniquely positioned to champion a coordinated response.

For these reasons, we urge the appointment of the ECOWAS Special Envoy on Ebola. Such an envoy will help draw attention to the public health and humanitarian challenges posed by Ebola and become a regional voice and leader for a regional response plan led by African and international contributors. The Envoy could also be the voice calling for effective management and coordination of cross-border transportation and logistics. The challenge we face is extraordinary and ECOWAS needs to create a specialized platform to address this.

We urge all ECOWAS member States to push for this resolution and to develop a concrete plan for operationalizing effective coordination. We call on the international community to provide needed assistance in ensuring that the response to Ebola in the region is effective, humane and sustainable.
We acknowledge that the efforts of ECOWAS and the international community can only yield results if residents of the region do their part. Hence, we also urge the populations and all civil society organizations to show more solidarity and be cautious by observing the preventive measures identified by the WHO.

Kindly sign this statement and share with info@wacsi.org for onward action


source: West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI)

#EbolaWatch's Kobby Blay Joins "Africa in Focus" to Offer Weekly Updates on Ebola

Join Kobby Blay, Lead of #EbolaWatch every Tuesday
at 13h30 on RadioXYZ93.1FM
by Emmanuel.K.Bensah Jr, Head of Research & Communications, Africa in Focus Show.

Since 19 August, Kobby Blay, Founder of Ghana Health Nest and Lead of #EbolaWatch  campaign, has been offering timely and relevant updates of everything Ebola on the #EbolaWatch segment on the weekly "Africa in Focus" show.

Kobby's interventions are either by phone or at the studio during the 13h00 to 15h00 slot when the show is airborne.

His concise and brief updates are highly-welcomed by the listening public, and has even attracted the interest of the West Africa Civil Society Institute(WACSI), which invited Kobby, a registered nurse at Korle-Bu hospital, to make a presentation on "the Role of Civil Society in Ebola Prevention". The presentation was made at WACSI's first-ever Ebola Information Session, which was held last week Friday at its headquarters at East Legon.

Catch Kobby every Tuesday on Radio XYZ 93.1fm at 01:30pm for the #EbolaWatch radio edition.

He will share with you all the updates and developments, and address your concerns with the ongoing #EbolaOutbreak..

If you have missed previous editions and you cannot afford to miss the latest coming up on 2 September.


ENDs

Saturday, August 30, 2014

AIF ECOWAS & AU News digest: 18-24 August, 2014

AIF ECOWAS & AU News digest: 18-24 August, 2014

A compilation of developments in the West African sub-region, and news from the AU, as compiled by the Research & Communications Unit of “Africa in Focus”
Assistant producer: Freda Cann
Executive Producer: E.K.Bensah Jr

ECOWAS to hold emergency meeting over Ebola in Accra
Despite a three-month moratorium on all international conferences in Ghana, an emergency meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) is likely to be held in Accra. That meeting will be held “if it is necessary” and will follow a meeting of the sub-region's health ministers.

This was disclosed by President John Daramani Mahama on Friday, August 22 when he welcomed the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) Michel Sidibe to the Flagstaff House, Kanda. Michel Sidibe is in Ghana to inspect work done so far on setting up a production hub of anti-retroviral drugs in Ghana. President Mahama, who is also Chairman of Ecowas’ highest decision-making body, used the opportunity to brief Mr Sidibe on a meeting of the West African Health Organisation which was held yesterday 25 August, 2014 over the deadly Ebola virus.

That meeting had in attendance officers of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control. “And then after that if it is necessary we will hold another emergency meeting of the heads of state to agree on the measures that we must take going forward in order to eliminate Ebola.”

South Africa bans incomers from West Africa
South Africa says non-citizens arriving from Ebola-affected areas of West Africa will not be allowed into the country, with borders closed to people from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. All non-essential outgoing travel to the affected countries has been banned. South African nationals will be allowed to re-enter the country when returning from high-risk countries, but will undergo strict screening, the health ministry said on Thursday. Usual screening procedures are in place for those who travel between Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia, which have been defined as medium-risk countries. Separately, the African Union (AU) announced plans to send a special team to the four affected countries. The six-month-long operation, involving volunteer doctors, nurses and medical personnel, will cost about $25m (£15m) and begin immediately, the AU said in a statement.

Uhuru to open meeting of Africa spy men
Kenya: African spy men are meeting in Nairobi to discuss continental security threats in the last one year. The spies are meeting under the auspices of Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), established in 2004. The week-long conference, which began on 23rd August, 2014, is expected to end on Friday August 30. President Uhuru Kenyatta will open the conference, which brings together African heads of intelligence and security services. The meeting comes at a time when Kenya’s long serving intelligence boss Michael Gichangi has been replaced with Major-General Philip Kameru.

Interpol plans to open office at AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa
The International Police Organisation (Interpol) is planning to open a permanent office at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, says the Ethiopian National Interpol Head, Police Commander Girmay Kahsay. The decision to open a permanent office took into consideration Ethiopia’s close collaboration with the organisation and its active role in the continent. Activities are currently underway to establish AFRIPOL, a continental organisation affiliated to the Interpol.

UPCOMING EVENTS
The Research & Communications Unit of Africa in Focus is pleased to announce that from 4-5 September, Eastgate Hotel will be hosting a High-Level Forum on Regional Development in West Africa.

The Forum will bring together a group of around ten that include senior policy officials, civil society leaders, researchers and community leaders to discuss ongoing debates around ECOWAS integration; regional peace and security; the informal economy; and efforts to promote intra-African tourism with the view of providing the necessary public support to these initiatives. The involvement of these stakeholders in the advocacy efforts around ECOWAS and African integration efforts is not only important but very urgent. The theme of the forum is “enhancing public knowledge and engagement on regional development in West Africa”.

The forum has the following specific objectives:
1.      Increase participants’ and public knowledge and engagement on ongoing ECOWAS integration efforts on energy security in the region and across the continent; and their implications for Ghana;
2.     Discuss recent initiatives by ECOWAS and its stakeholders on West African integration efforts; regional peace and security; and East Africa on facilitating tourism in Africa 

Moderated by host of, and Head of Research & Communications of AIF, it is an opportunity to revisit and amplify some of the major topics covered over the past three months of the show. The idea is to encourage greater public engagement of the issues. The Forum is expected to start at 10:00am and end at 3:00pm with lunch

It is a fantastic opportunity to network with a number of the people who have been on our show. These include ECOWAS officials; Ghana Association of Susu Collectors; AgriPro Consulting; Borderless Alliance; and many more! We will be launching the AIF Volunteer Scheme, which is an opportunity to contribute to Africa’s integration.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

PODCAST>> "AFRICA IN FOCUS: Hospitality Sector in Ghana & Africa (26 August, 2014)

From Emmanuel K:

"Dear friends,

Kindly find the link to the podcast of #AfricainFocus show on Tuesday 26 August, which interrogated some important questions in Africa's hotel industry. We leave the show getting a sense of why hotel prices in Ghana are relatively higher than in other African countries, and why the tourism regulators, and government are found wanting in bringing sanity to the sector.

As usual, we have different segments, including our regular AU/ECOWAS five minute digest; "Africa in History"; "Africa in the News".

We also have #EbolaWatch updates from Kobby Blay, our registered nurse at Korle-Bu.

We look forward to comments!
Kind regards,
Emmanuel"

Click here to view

(Emmanuel K shared these files using Dropbox. Enjoy!)
© 2014 Dropbox

Monday, August 25, 2014

AFRICA IN FOCUS >> Coming up on 26 August, 2014:The Hotel Industry in Ghana & Africa: Challenges; Prospects; and the Future

The Hotel Industry in Ghana & Africa: Challenges; Prospects; and the Future

Even before the Ebola crisis took root in the fears of Ghanaians, AIF had already put together what would become a package of stories dealing with the tourism sector in Africa. One may recall that in one of our July editions, we touched on the role of the African Union and the UN World Tourism Organisation in promoting tourism as an important element in reducing poverty in Africa.

 To this end, the two institutions had, in July, signed a MoU to help realize this. The 27 July edition of Africa in Focus, which focused on the Forestry Sector and matters arising on Eco-Tourism, kick-started the first of a series of programmes that seek to shed light on different aspects of tourism.

On 19 August, we looked at the Aviation sector as another equally-important aspect of supporting and developing the tourism sector.

Unbeknownst to many, on 3 July, 1991, ECOWAS adopted a programme of activities for tourism. As far back as that time, ECOWAS recognized the need to encourage and facilitate the joint promotion of tourism products in West Africa. It sought to coordinate tourism development activities in Member States. Finally, aware of the necessity to “create and maintain a high standard for tourism in the sub-region and thereby boost the flow of tourists to the Member States”, ECOWAS adopted, in 1999, a standards for classification of hotels, motels and guest inns.

For the purposes of this discussion, we will use the ECOWAS definition, which defines a hotel or any similar establishment catering for the tourist trade, in the following way: “an establishment providing sleeping accommodation to the public by way of trade or business, such accommodation being payable on a daily basis, or in the case of a longer period of occupancy, payable weekly or monthly, provided…the occupant is not permanently resident therein. The establishment may provide restaurant facilities and may be open for business either all year round or seasonally.”

In this edition of AIF, which is our 15th edition, we will be shedding light on the hospitality sector, with a special focus on hotels, in Ghana, and Africa.

We will be asking very important questions about why hotel prices are so high in countries like Ghana? How does it compare to countries like Rwanda, where there is greater sanity in the tourism sector? In addition, we will be asking what can be done by the hotel industry to improve customer satisfaction for its clients. Finally, in the light of the Ebola virus, what measures are hotels taking to assure customers they are ready to confront the scare head-on for their clients? We will conclude the show having examined the impact of the three-month ban of international conferences on the hotel industry in Ghana, with a discussion on how to bring sanity into the sector in the light of the current turbulence.

Guests in the studio:
Ø  Kwaku Ayeh Akuffo, Head, Sales & Marketing, MJ Grand Hotel
Ø  Siisi Baidoo, Sales Executive, Tulip Inn Hotel

On the line
Ø  Richard Baafi-Duah, Manager, Manna Heights Hotel, Central Region, Ghana @13h50
Ø  Emmanuel Werabe , Tourism Quality and Standards Manager, Department of Tourism and Conservation, Rwanda Development Board @14h05

Tune in at 13h10 GMT (1:00pm Ghana Time). We’re also streaming live  www.radioxyzonline.com.

Contact us Facebook on: http://www.facebook.com/africainfocusonradioxyz and radio XYZ 93.1FM. Tweet us @africainfocus14 and @ekbensah. Listen to us on #MultiTVChannel29. Thanks!

HOW TO CONTACT "AFRICA IN FOCUS"
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Friday, August 22, 2014

PODCAST>> "AFRICA IN FOCUS: "Africa's Aviation Sector: Challenges; Prospects and the Future" (19 August, 2014)

From Emmanuel K:

"Kindly find a podcast of the 19 August edition of "Africa in Focus", which looked at some of the challenges befalling the Aviation Sector in Africa:

"Guiding Questions answered:

· What concrete measures are airlines taking to help bring down tickets?
· How satisfied are the airlines operating here that the Yamassoukro Declaration is being implemented?
· What is the state of play about aviation fuel? Are some airlines getting it cheaper elsewhere?
· Taxes, Charges and Fees are the highest in West Africa. Is it a case of West African governments being insensitive to the necessity of airlines in contributing to Africa's development?
· With the onset of Ebola, how are airlines bracing themselves to respond to the crisis? What assurances are they giving their passengers?
· What can our governments do better to help the aviation sector, beyond implementing the YD?"

Click here to view

(Emmanuel K shared these files using Dropbox. Enjoy!)
© 2014 Dropbox

Sunday, August 17, 2014

FEATURE: ECOWAS Finally sets up Ebola Awareness Page

by Emmanuel.K.Bensah Jr, Head of Research & Communications Unit, Africa in Focus Show

Barely a month after ECOWAS recorded its first fatality at the ECOWAS Lagos Office to Ebola, the regional institution has finally established a website to help respond to staff concerns about the Ebola virus. Dubbed "ECOWAS Health Awareness", the site is in the three official languages of ECOWAS--English; French; and Portuguese--and uses a combination of cartoons and simple language to explain all one needs to know about Ebola.

Under the "All you need to know" tab, there are sections on recognising the virus; preventing it; transmission; and treatment.

On clicking the FAQ tab, one is directed to pertinent questions on Ebola for "ECOWAS"; the "WHO" and the "UN". There is regrettably no information under the UN section, but there are a detailled list of questions under the "ECOWAS" and "WHO" tabs.

Perhaps the most useful part of the site is the "Updates" tab, which is populated by some statistics of deaths recorded since 27 July up to 8 August, 2014. Although the French and Portuguese site have little information, the English site seems to be more up-to-date.

This website comes at a time when many ECOWAS Community citizens have been left wondering what the regional response to the crisis is. Reports that the AU and WHO are actively collaborating to help countries affected by Ebola have left many sceptical as to whether there is actually any ECOWAS Ebola Fund as trumpeted by ECOWAS at the 45th Ordinary Session that was held here in Accra in July.

The West African Health Organisation(WAHO), the regional counterpart to the World Health Organisation, has been found wanting in its response to the crisis. It is only a small news digest about an upcoming emergency meeting in Accra on 28 August that offers some assurance.

According to the WAHO website, the "Extraordinary Meeting of the Assembly of Health Ministers will be devoted to reviewing Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the region". The meeting will seek to provide "an update on the implementation of recommendations from the last WHO-sponsored Accra Meeting and the Summit convened by the Heads of State of the Mano River Union."

More than 1,000 people lost their lives to the deadly virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria in recent months.

Access the ECOWAS Ebola Awareness site here: http://www.awareness.ecowas.int/

ENDs


AFRICA IN FOCUS >> Coming up on 19 August, 2014: "Africa’s Aviation Sector: Challenges; Prospects; and the Future"

The State of the Africa’s Aviation Sector: Challenges; Prospects; and the Future

In talking about the aviation sector, it is possible to speculate that one has touched on a topic so esoteric and specialised that it requires the knowledge and passion of an expert to explain them. Truth be told, the more one reads, the more one realises that it is more of the same of the quintessential turf wars that populate the literature of the fight between the West and the Global South, especially Africa, for its own policy space.

Let's make no bones about this: we need neither a Western country; a UN agency; NEPAD; nor the AU to tell us about the critical importance of the aviation sector to Africa's development. The principal reason why any international body like the AU, NEPAD, or the UN might want to remind us is simply so Africans can take the bull by the horns and create their destiny about the “open skies” policy the Yamoussoukro Decision seeks to advocate.

There are no easy solutions to the challenge of facilitating an open-skies policy for Africa. This does not mean that we should not try to do something about it. There already exists the YD, which has been in operation since 2002. Other institutions, such as AFCAC, and Banjul Accord Group(linking 7 ECOWAS countries) exist to help resolve the challenge. Africa is fortunate to have organisations, such as AFRAA, that have transformed themselves into virtual advocacy organisations for the African airline industry. There is, however, more that can be done.

It is for this reason that we are using the 14th edition of “Africa in Focus” to interrogate the aviation sector.

There are five major reasons why it is important to look at the sector. First are the perennially-expensive airline tickets. Second is the state of the YD. What are some of the experiences that those in the studio can attest to around its implementation? Third, what are some of the solutions towards resolving the expensive aviation fuel? Is the solution Joint-Fuel purchases? Fourth, how can consumers ever be shielded from the very-high taxes; charges; and fees on airline tickets so that consumers can finally pay for affordable tickets? Finally, in the light of the Ebola scare, how are airlines bracing themselves to respond to what seems like a long-term challenge for the aviation industry?


Guiding Questions to be answered:
·        What concrete measures are airlines taking to help bring down tickets?
·        How satisfied are the airlines operating here that the Yamassoukro Declaration is being implemented?
·        What is the state of play about aviation fuel? Are some airlines getting it cheaper elsewhere?
·        Taxes, Charges and Fees are the highest in West Africa. Is it a case of West African governments being insensitive to the necessity of airlines in contributing to Africa’s development?
·        With the onset of Ebola, how are airlines bracing themselves to respond to the crisis? What assurances are they giving their passengers?
·        What can our governments do better to help the aviation sector, beyond implementing the YD?


Guests in the studio:
Ø  William Afadzinu, Marketing Manager, ASKY Airlines
Ø  Anthony Sarfo, Marketing Manager--West & North Africa, Kenya Airways
Ø  Adewale Adeniran, Sales Manager, Arik Air

Tune in at 13h10 GMT (1:00pm Ghana Time). We’re also streaming live  www.radioxyzonline.com.

Contact us Facebook on: http://www.facebook.com/africainfocusonradioxyz and radio XYZ 93.1FM. Tweet us @africainfocus14 and @ekbensah. Listen to us on #MultiTVChannel29. Thanks!

HOW TO CONTACT "AFRICA IN FOCUS"
1. Google plus BUSINESS PAGE: http://gplus.to/contactafricainfocusxyz
2. Google plus COMMUNITY:
http://gplus.to/africaonradioxyz
3. Google plus Profile: 
http://gplus.to/africainfocusongoogleplus


*Email:  africainfocusonradioxyz AT gmail.com
*FACEBOOK: 
http://www.facebook.com/africainfocusonradioxyz
*Twitter: 
http://www.twitter.com/africainfocus14, using #AfricainFocus #radioxyz

Saturday, August 16, 2014

PODCAST>> "AFRICA IN FOCUS: "Africa & Social Media: Blogging; Activism; and the Future" (5 August, 2014)

From Emmanuel K:

""Kindly find a podcast of the 5 August edition of "Africa in Focus".

In this edition of AIF, we talked to Kenya's erstwhile "King of Facebook", and Brand Ambassador of Safaricomm to find out how that East African country has been able to revolutionise New Media. We also talked to the former Knowledge Management Officer of the UNECA who played an active role in ensuring that the rather-prosaic policy of Africa's integration and development is translated into the more exciting and vivacious New Media channel in Facebook.

Even more importantly, we used the show to explore the extent to which New Media, especially blogging, is still a good idea, and does it have validity in a space where twitter seems to be king? We tried to find out what Kenya's King of Facebook thinks about other forms of New Media, and does his commercial success lend weight to the fact that his template is one that can be replicated elsewhere in Africa?""

Click here to view

(Emmanuel K shared these files using Dropbox. Enjoy!)
© 2014 Dropbox

Monday, August 11, 2014

AFRICA IN FOCUS >> Coming up on 12 August, 2014: "African Youth: Challenges; Prospects & the Future"

The African Youth is unlike any other.  

Whether they are between 15-35yrs (as stipulated by African Youth Charter) or 18-40yrs, the bottom line is that they will continue to impact significantly on Africa’s development.

According to the Youth Division of the AU Commission, around 65% of the total population of Africa is below the age of 35 years, with over 35% being between the age of 15 and 35 years. This makes the African continent the most youthful one. It is projected that by 2020, 3 out of 4 young people will be around 20 years old. In addition, each year, 10 million young African youth arrive each year on the labour market.

On International Youth Day, celebrated every 12 August, we are using the edition of “Africa in Focus” to interrogate different dimensions of African youth.

To say the African youth is the future of the continent is to totally understate the state of the African Youth. That there is an African Youth Charter of 2006 (which is an institutional and legal response to youth development and empowerment in Africa); an African Youth Parliament; and African Union Youth Volunteer Corps, which was established in December 2010, is the biggest indicator that there have been responses over the years to helping redress some of the challenges facing youth.

More recently, there has been the ECOWAS Volunteer Programme Scheme, which enjoins ECOWAS youth to help contribute to peace and security of the countries of Guinea; Liberia; and Sierra Leone. Both the AU and ECOWAS one was based on the UN Volunteer Scheme, which also helps promote youth volunteerism.

Closer to home, the “Africa in Focus” Research & Communications Unit will be launching the first-ever Youth Volunteer Scheme at our first-everHigh-Level Public Forum on 4-5 September on Regional Development in West Africa at Eastgate Hotel. It enjoins the African youth to actively contribute to the development of Africa and West Africa’s integration efforts through innovative strategies.

In this 13th edition of AIF, we talk to members of the African youth leaders on how and why agriculture is still a great sector to be in for the youth. What about the youth who are doing great stuff in their communities? What do they have to say about their work? In this respect, we will be speaking to Rauf Kadri, a youth activist and anti-corruption campaigner. If volunteering by the youth is still a great idea, what are organizations like the West Africa Civil Society Institute(WACSI) doing to help encourage and stimulate youth to be proactive in their careers? 

We shall also be speaking to health practitioner Kobby Blay to give us the latest on Ebola. In the light of the theme of UN International Youth Day being “Mental Health Matters”, and reminding people to help reduce stigma surrounding youth with mental health conditions, we shall be speaking to Kobby to help shed light on his experience of the impact of mental health and youth. Finally, we shall be speaking to the Executive Director of the Young Zimbabwe Business Platform to give his insights into the way forward for Africa’s youth.

Questions to be answered:
·        What constitutes the African Youth?
·        What is the biggest stumbling block for African youth?
·        Has the African Youth lost its way? (Rauf)
·        How can agriculture help the youth make an impact in their country’s development?(Edison)
·   How and Why are initiatives like Model Ecowas Summit an answer to responding to challenges of youth?( David Osabutey)
·        Is volunteering by the Youth still a good idea? (As not everyone can be an entrepreneur!)
·        Does the future look bright for Africa’s youth? (Edison/Charles/Rauf)

Guests in the studio:
Ø  Edison Gbenga, AgriPro Consulting
Ø  David Osabutey, Model Ecowas Summit
Ø  Kobby Blay, Ghana Health Nest/#EbolaWatch

On the line:
Ø  Rauf Kadri, anti-corruption campaigner  @ 13h55
Ø  Charles VanDyck, WACSI,  @14h10
Ø  Mkhu Ncube, Young Zimbabwe Business Platform/ex-UNECA @ 14h25

Sunday, August 10, 2014

AIF NEWS FEATURE: "AFRICA AND SOCIAL MEDIA: BLOGGING; ACTIVISM; AND THE FUTURE"

AFRICA AND SOCIAL MEDIA: BLOGGING; ACTIVISM; AND THE FUTURE
                                                                 
                                               by Pamela Ofori-Boateng, AIF News Reporter

According to Africa Renewal Online, Africans are coupling their already extensive use of cellphones with a more recent and massive interest in social media. Africans are leading what may be the next global trend:a major shift to mobile internet use,with social media as its main drivers.

Studies suggest that when Africans go online they spend most of their time on social media platforms like Facebook; twitter; YouTube and others.

Social media platforms were primarily used to connect with family and friends, but the pattern has changed lately. Social media has now become a major platform for activism in Africa taking into consideration the abduction of over 200 girls in Nigeria by the militant group Boko Haram. Most civil society organisations and individuals launched social media campaigns to help in “bringing the girls back” to where they belong.

Another recent example is the “Occupy Flagstaff House”, which was organised in Accra, Ghana’s capital, on July 1, 2014 with the aim of asking government to solve corruption; infrastructural decay; and worsening economy -- among other things. Social media tool, Facebook, was the main tool used to mobilise the masses for the demonstration.

People in Africa also use blogging as a social media platform to air their views on topics they find interesting or topics they want to educate people about.

On the latest edition of “Africa in Focus”,E.K.Bensah hosted Kwame Ahiabenu of Penplusbytes and Edward Tagoe of Blogging Ghana on the topic,”Africa and Social Media:Blogging :Activism and the future”

Mr. Edward Tagoe stated that every country needs an association of bloggers because there is a craving for fresh information and so bloggers will provide a lot more information than what we have in the mainstream media. He did not mince words to say that the rate of blogging is decreasing because Twitter as a social media platform has become easy to use and it is more interactive.

He mentioned plagiarism and libel as the main challenge confronted by bloggers and further asked bloggers to cross check their write ups and acknowledge any source of information they use on their blogs.

Mr. Kwame Ahiabenu intimated that Ghana now has quite a number of citizen journalists who aid in the dissemination of information through facebook; twitter and whatsapp and that the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA)should include them(Citizen journalists) when structuring the categories of the annual journalism awards.

Mr. Tagoe reiterated that since almost all media houses are using social media platforms like facebook,twitter,whatsapp among others to disseminate information,it will be a good idea if the association introduces categories of awards for online news.

Stephen Musyoka,who won King of Facebook 2010 in Kenya also contributed to the show on phone by painting a picture of Kenya’s vibrancy on the social media ladder in Africa. He said that WhatsApp is a very important tool for business because one can easily send commercials and pictures of their products to a contact list.

Mr. Musyoka mentioned that Kenya’s high social media presence is as a result of high and fast internet connectivity.

He highlighted on some of the negative aspects of social media like hacking. He gave an example in Kenya where the account of one government official was hacked into and the need for governments to regulate the usage of social media in Africa.

Africa is indeed progressing when it comes to the use of social media but i believe we can do more with this powerful tool to a stage where criminals can be caught through social media just like a news story i watched on Al jazeera within this week where a thief who stole a lady’s earring worth 300 dollars was caught within 24 hours just because someone took a video of him whilst he was stealing and uploaded it on facebook. Within minutes the videos went viral and it led to the identification of the thief.


Monday, August 4, 2014

AIF Feature: A CRITICAL LOOK AT GHANA’S FORESTRY SECTOR

by Pamela Ofori-Boateng, AIF News Reporter 
The forestry sector in Ghana contributes about 6% to GDP which provides over 100,000 people with jobs in the informal sector.In our communities about 2.5 million people depend on forest products such as mushrooms, firewood, snails and grass cutter  but this same sector is faced with a number of challenges, which will weaken it if not dealt with.

Mr. Kwame Mensah, a member of Forest Watch Ghana and a coordinator of KASA initiative, stated that Ghana has lost a significant portion of its forest reserve due to weak governance and poor law enforcement in the sector. “Though we have the best laws governing the sector, its implementation is weak.” He added.

“We also have outmoded laws which do not impact on the current forestry issue that we are facing. Another challenge in this sector is the conflicting policies that fight against the Forestry Commission of Ghana in their effort to effectively manage the forest reserve. Frequent government interference does not allow the Forestry Commission to work effectively.

When it comes to sharing proceeds from the forest, the community members who takes care of the forest do not benefit. According to Social Responsibility Agreement (SRA), companies who use the forests for businesses are supposed to use 5% of their proceeds for developmental projects in the various communities i which they operate but because members of the community are not aware of this benefit most companies do not pay and sometimes when they pay it ends up in the wrong hands.  

The Forestry Commission is faced with difficulties in executing their duties since the commission acts as a manager,a  regulator and a law enforcer which is too much of a burden. The Forestry Commission should only work as a regulator of the Forestry Sector to make their work much easier and effective.”

Mr.Mensah said that the Forestry Commission is educating people on our Forest reserve but the commission should increase their efforts in holding  educational programmes to sensitize the general public and especially people living in forest communities about their rights, responsibilities and the benefits that they are supposed to enjoy from the proceeds from the forest

“If members of the communities do not benefit directly from the resources,they are definitely going to find indirect means to benefit.We should put measures in place that will motivate community people to report deviants who indiscriminately cut trees for their personal gain.”

Mr.Kwame Mensah made these revelations on the “Africa In Focus" Show on Radio XYZ hosted by Emmanuel K.Bensah.The Forestry Commission was invited to take part in the discussions but was not able to honour the invitation.

ENDs


AFRICA IN FOCUS >> Coming up on 5 August, 2014: "Africa & Social Media: Blogging; Activism; and the Future"

Africa & Social Media: Blogging; Activism; and the Future

If someone were to be documenting Ghana’s young history of its foray into Social Media, one might refer to the 1 July demonstration, which triggered the hashtag #Occupyflagstaff, as one of the examples of Ghana’s foray into activism. Activism, because many months after the so-called “Arab Spring”, many have questioned when sub-Saharan Africa would have its own Spring.

But long before there was even any talk of a “Spring” africaine, Ghana had begun making moves around Social Media. First it was Penplusbytes, or the ICT Institute of Journalism in 2001. Seven years later came BloggingGhana – considered the largest association of bloggers writing about Ghana. With the advent of New Media has come opportunities for training and education on New Media, which the latter two organizations have been involved in.

That said, one could be forgiven for thinking that without being associated with these two organizations, survival in New Media is impossible. Far from it, as there remain many individuals blogging, and fully-engaged in New Media through many different initiatives they undertake.

Then there is the case of our media houses, which are taking the New Media bull by the horns and running with it. Back in 2009, the host of “Africa in Focus” was called to national duty for the 14th GJA Media Awards. Word had it that his blogging activism was what led him to that calling.  Sitting on that committee as a judge for online journalism was indeed a priviledge, but he was disheartened by the fact that subsequent GJA Media awards did not deem Blogging and New Media an important component of Ghana’s media.

Fortunately, New Media has managed to move beyond relying on the Ghana Journalist Association. The establishment of organizations like BloggingGhana and Penplusbytes can verily attest to this fact. But even with their respective successes, what have other countries been able to do around New Media and Blogging?

In this edition of AIF, we talk to Kenya’s erstwhile “King of Facebook”, and Brand Ambassador of Safaricomm to find out how that East African country has been able to revolutionise New Media. We also talk to the former Knowledge Management Officer of the UNECA who played an active role in ensuring that the rather-prosaic policy of Africa’s integration and development is translated into the more exciting and vivacious New Media channel in Facebook.

Even more importantly, we will be using the show to explore the extent to which New Media, especially blogging, is still a good idea, and does it have validity in a space where twitter seems to be king? What does Kenya’s King of Facebook think about other forms of New Media, and does his commercial success lend weight to the fact that his template is one that can be replicated elsewhere in Africa?

Guests in the studio:
Ø  Edward Tagoe, BloggingGhana
Ø  Ato Ulzen-Appiah, Rancard Solutions/ex-Google Ghana
Ø  Kwami Ahiabenu, Penplusbytes New Media Hub/African Elections Project

On the line:
Ø  Golda Addo, Renewable Energy advocate; Activist   @ 13h40
Ø  Stephen Musyoka, TrInc Media/ former Kenyan “King of Facebook”/City Council of Nairobi @ 13h55
Ø  Mawuli Tsikata, CITI fm, @14h10
Ø  Mkhu Ncube, Young Zimbabwe Business Platform/ex-UNECA @ 14h25

Tune in at 13h10 GMT (1:00pm Ghana Time). We’re also streaming live  www.radioxyzonline.com.

Contact us Facebook on:
http://www.facebook.com/africainfocusonradioxyz and radio XYZ 93.1FM. Tweet us @africainfocus14 and @ekbensah. Listen to us on #MultiTVChannel29. Thanks!

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