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Opinions of Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Columnist: Fordjour, Kwadwo

Ghana Government reform or privatization Part II

As I promised in my July 8 article on “A Case for Ghana Government Reform or Privatization” here is Part II. I am hoping that readers will provide the same constructive criticism or provide meaningful inputs on this follow-up. For those who missed the Part I published in the Feature Article Section of the Ghanaweb, go to archives and check on July 8.

Since the article was published, several developments have taken place in line with the discussion for some kind of reform or privatization. Some of the areas are decentralization of water supply to rural and suburban areas; establishment of community development council to accelerate development in Takoradi/Secondi; funding local government implementation of planning regulations; elimination of ministry of information; public/private partnership for the Kumasi Shoe Factory; more demonstration against and for removal of regional ministers in Volta Region.

I would like to give an in-depth analysis of the issue of abolition of the ministry of information as it has generated the most interest among the readers and the Ghanaian public. It is prudent to suggest that the ministry come out with a vision, mission and core objectives to demonstrate its relevance to the Ghanaian people. It has also been suggested that the ministry be combined with the ministry of transportation and communication. The third and a appealing suggestion is to transform the ministry into information technology to handle the public sector IT needs to bring about efficiency and transparency in sharing of government information with the general public. How many times has anyone sent e-mail to an official address of his or her District Chief Executive and received a response? Governments in western world and other emerging economies have used IT to accelerate communication, marketing, education, emergency response, economic development, financial transaction, etc. Having all schools and government agencies wired will take away the second guessing of information from the government, and misinformation by the media because people can verify for themselves the accuracy of the information they are getting. The media would also be held accountable for what they publish as the Ghanaian public can verify from the source.

The transformation of the ministry into an information technology may include the following mission and functions:

1. Information technology services for government institutions including management and regulation of internet usage by government staff, supply of computers and provision of IT support services to government offices

2. Clearinghouse for all government documents, reports and data include facts and figures and financial reports.

3. Printing and distribution of mass educational pamphlets, flyers, posters, etc on health, diseases, social, environmental, safety, emergency and other issues of national importance

4. Development of documentary films and videos on social, health, environmental, safety, emergency and other issues of national importance

5. Printing of government receipts, invoices, forms, reports, stationery, etc.

6. Establishment and operation of libraries in all district and municipal capitals. This can be collaboration with Education ministry.

Meanwhile, the office of the presidency should use its communication and press team to communicate the work of the presidency to the press and the Ghanaian people. Government agencies, ministries and municipalities should use their communication departments to inform the public about their activities. Political parties including the party in power should refrain from using the presidential communication team, and/or any public agency’s communication apparatus or staff to make partisan statements or other political gains.

Kwadwo Fordjour