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Feature Article of Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Columnist: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta

Is Ghanaweb forum beneficial to Ghanaians?

Kwesi Atta Sakyi
10th January 2012

Introduction

First and foremost, I will begin by doffing off my hat to the creators of Ghanaweb and their promoters abroad for making it possible to have Ghanaweb running as a social network forum for all Ghanaians, both at home and abroad, as it has provided a bridge to span the divide and disconnect which previously existed between homesters and the Diaspora. The site has grown from strength to strength and currently the number one hit with Diasporeans. It has also become popular globally as articles submitted to it are republished by other websites and even non-Ghanaians take keen interest in responding to some of the submissions of universal appeal. However, it is the policy of Ghanaweb that they only publish articles pertaining to Ghana. That said, it must be noted that Ghana is not an island, as events in Ghana affect the world and vice versa. Be that as it may, perhaps the sponsors and promoters gave that condition so as to stay in focus and also not to infringe on the sovereignty of other countries. This may be in line with our President’s maxim of, ‘Dzi wo fie asem’ (focus on your domestic issues). We must state that Mr. Francis Akoto and his associates, by their initiative and foresight, have raised Ghana’s profile and flag high in the global village. They have done a commendable and yeoman’s job to allow as many Ghanaians as possible to have enough social space (or electronic space) to air their views and pent-up feelings to their government, and to provide a platform for them to share their knowledge, experiences, views, opinions, dreams and aspirations for their beloved country, Ghana.

Advantages of Ghanaweb to Ghanaians

1. It has enabled Ghanaians, especially those in the Diaspora, to make valuable input into governance and policy making by providing them an Agora (Geek for marketplace) to share ideas.
2. It has helped to reunite and connect relatives and friends who have been separated by both vast amounts of time and space.
3. It has improved communication, interaction and intercourse between Ghana as a nation on the one hand, and all other nations on the other hand.
4. It has exposed the mindset, psyche and behaviour of Ghanaians for us to know ourselves properly as a body collective and as individuals. Self knowledge is the beginning of wisdom and progress.
5. Many investors and tourists have come to know Ghana more through Ghanaweb and this has increased tourist traffic to Ghana and an increase in inward foreign direct investment.
6. There are many students, scholars and researchers and research institutions which use Ghanaweb as a veritable source of information or gateway to Ghana’s profile, though not all the information on Ghanaweb is accurate. It is up to the information-user to be objective and discerning.
7. Many Ghanaians are improving their writing and communication skills and expanding their horizon by surfing daily on Ghanaweb. Indeed, it has increased ICT awareness and its use among Ghanaians.
8. Ghanaweb has provided an opportunity to Ghanaians to market and advertise their products and businesses online.
9. Ghanaians abroad have been updated about developmental issues in Ghana and the goings-on, be they political, economic, social, legal, technological, ethical, environmental or otherwise.
10. Many foreigners who did not know about Ghana and Ghanaians have, through Ghanaweb, gained an inkling into the nature and behaviour of Ghanaians, and in the process, shaped their perspective on Ghana.
11. Indirectly, access to Ghanaweb has meant that Ghanaians have had to acquire assets such as laptops, cellphones and PCs, which process has made them work hard to improve their standards of living.
12. Many jobs have been created for internet cafes by those who do not have their own internet and they are Ghanaweb fans and addicts.
13. Some unemployed hobos, through Ghanaweb, have spotted job avenues and opportunities to exploit.
14. Ghanaweb has, and is fulfilling the media objectives of informing, educating, reminding, entertaining and motivating the public to achieve greater goals.
15. Some non-returnees in the Diaspora have read things on Ghanaweb which have rekindled their desire to prepare to relocate back to Ghana.
16. Some Ghanaians who are creative have shared their creativity with us online through poetry, short stories, fiction, among others.
17. Generally, Ghanaweb has been a window of opportunity on the world for Ghanaians at home and abroad to strike friendships and business partnerships.
Disadvantages of Ghanaweb
1. Hackers, spammers and 419 fraudsters use Ghanaweb to crook people
2. Some political propagandists use Ghanaweb to misinform the public through distortions, concoctions and fabrications.
3. A lot of man-hours are lost due to some Ghanaweb addicts who may abuse working hours surfing. There are some hobos who sleep and wake up at Ghanaweb. These are the ones who sometimes make uncritical and uncouth comments, dissing and maligning commentators for no apparent reason, except for jealousy or malice or mischief or all of these combined.
4. Perhaps, Ghanaweb has over-exposed Ghana to the outside world, so much so that some censorship may be needed by the website managers and editors in the future to avoid abuse of privilege.
5. Some morons, imbeciles, nincompoops, neurotics and psychotics surface on Ghanweb to provoke contributors and yet they never contribute a single article. These have Phd syndrome.
6. Some Ghanaweb contributors have degraded themselves by their not –too- careful choice of words and they have sordidly portrayed a negative picture of Ghanaians as uncouth, cantankerous, disunited and full of vitriolic tribal and political diatribe and vociferous altercation and effusions.

Total Score: Pros: 17 Cons: 6

Conclusion

From the above observations on the pros and cons of having Ghanaweb, it is abundantly clear that the merits far outweigh the demerits. Therefore, the site is very valuable, not only to Ghanaians but to the whole world. May I suggest that Ghanaweb should conduct some sponsorships, surveys, promotions, competitions and social marketing for its readers, fans and contributors for more awareness, and perhaps as a matter of having fun and rewarding its clientele. I also suggest that in future, the management of Ghanaweb should commission publication of some selected quality articles, of course observing copyright and intellectual property rights and giving some percentage of proceeds from publications to humanitarian or charitable causes, and a royalty to the contributors. They could also organize some quiz. I am, however, aware that Ghanaweb shares its articles with other partners who are syndicated with them. Ghanaweb should inform the public about its mission statement, raison d‘etre, modus operandi, its short, medium and long term objectives, among others. Obviously, Ghanaweb is a huge success story worthy of emulation by others. Thus far, what is the way forward for it? Is it contemplating expansion, mergers,diversification, rebranding, strategic repositioning on the market or what? What awards has it won in the past? Is it accredited? Does it plan to have a site for Encyclopaedia of Ghana? Will it restructure to offer online courses?

I extend happy New Year to the Management and patrons of Ghanaweb.

By Kwesi Atta Sakyi

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