Thursday, April 16, 2009

West Africa’s ICT industry faces major threat unless ...

Local players in the ICT sector have expressed pessimism over the liberalization of trade in ICT services saying, West Africa stands to lose heavily unless national policies were reviewed to promote indigenous creativity and innovation.

The participants, who comprised experts from major telecom operators, Internet Service Providers, small scale operators in the software development sector and the media, indicated that, West African countries were being forced to open up their markets without being able to evaluate the cost and gains of the liberalization of ICT services.

This came out at a focused group discussion held by the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of Ghana last Wednesday as part of the LICOM project, a sub-regional study, which aims at contributing to a better understanding of international challenges of the liberalization of trade in ICTs under the WTO’s General Agreements on Trade in Services (GATS).

The project, which comprised four countries, Ghana, Nigeria Senegal and Benin, also intends to encourage the formulation of public policies conducive to the development of ICT and private sector in the sub-region.

The participants also advocated a harmonization of national policies on ICTs and telecommunications in the region within the ECOWAS legal framework in the sector.

Even those who supported the liberalization of the sector in the light of the global GATS, which Ghana was a signatory, cautioned that the national efforts must be pursued with the recognition that the private sector’s role was critical to the overall growth of the industry.

The group that appeared to be the most worried as it came up at the discussion was the software developers, who strongly intimated that current legislations on ICTs in the Ghana give them limited space to develop their creativities because of low recognition.

They said government definition of the ICT sector rested only on the so called “giant” operators such as mobile telecom operators and until recently the Internet Service Providers.

“But the small software developers who mostly comprised young graduates with fresh minds and constituted the majority of about 70 percent, are not so much counted,” they indicated.

Giving an overview of the LICOM project, Dr Godfred Frempong, Director of STEPRI said ICT domination in West Africa is still overwhelming and therefore there was the need to streamline public polices for member countries to take advantage of the numerous services and products the sector offers.

He said the ICT sector ought to be facilitated in its assimilation into the socio-economic activities of countries and this required commitment from governments and all stakeholders within the region.

Dr Frempong, who has carried many research activities in the field of ICT in Ghana, identified difficulties to access to finance, lack of human resources and inadequate policies as some of challenges the liberalization of ICTs poses to West Africa.

Under human resource for instance, he said, currently in Ghana, due to the inadequate expertise, many companies were using all kinds of means to poach skills workers from sister operators.

“This means that the few experts we have, kept moving from one company to another. We need to assist public policy making institutions to get deeper understanding of the trade liberalization on ICT goods as well as build more capacities,” he added.

The International Development and Research Centre (IDRC) are funding the LICOM project with PANOS Institute of West Africa coordinating with the support of Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research through STEPRI.


Source: gna
Story from Modern Ghana News:

Published: Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fwd: [penplusbytes] Ten things every journalist should know in 2009

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: International Institute for ICTJournalism (Penplusbytes) <>
Date: 2009/1/15
Subject: [penplusbytes] Ten things every journalist should know in 2009
To: Penplusbytes <>

1. How to use Twitter to build communities, cover your beat, instigate and engage in conversations.

2. How to use RSS feeds to gather news and manage them using filtering techniques (basic or advanced).

3. That there is a difference between link journalism and 'cut and paste' journalism (aka plagiarism).

4. That your readers are smarter than you think. In fact, many are smarter than you - they know more than you do.

5. That churnalism is much easier to spot online. If you do this regularly, your readers are already on to you - merely re-writing press releases without bringing anything to the table no longer cuts it.

6. Google is your friend. But if you are not using advanced search techniques, you really have no idea what it is capable of.

7. You do not have to own, or even host, the technology to innovate in journalism and engage your readers. There is a plethora of free or cheap tools available online, so there is no excuse for not experimenting with them.

8. Multimedia for multimedia's sake rarely works, and is often embarrassing. If you are going to do it, either do it well enough so it works as a standalone item or do it to complement your written coverage - for example, add a link to the full sound file of your interview with someone in your article, or a link to the video of someone's entire speech at an event. The latter will enhance the transparency of your journalism too. Great tips and resources here and some useful tips on doing video on a budget.

9. How to write search engine friendly journalism. Old school thinking about headline writing, story structure etc no longer applies online and there is also more to learn about tagging, linking and categorisation. Sub-editors (if you still have them), editors and reporters all need to know how to do this stuff.

10. Learn more about privacy. You can find a lot of information about people online, especially via social networking sites, but think carefully about the consequences. And bear in mind that it cuts both ways, if you do not do it carefully, your online research could compromise your sources.

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