DW Akademie at #rpAccra

03.01.2019 - Article

re:publica, a Berlin-based conference focusing on the internet and society, is also being held in December in Ghana. DW Akademie was there, showing how digital technology can support free expression and information, writes Deutsche Welle (DW).

DW focuses on how digital technology can support free expression and information.
DW focuses on how digital technology can support free expression and information.© DW/E Senftleben

The first re:publica conference to be held in Ghana ran from December 14-15 in Accra, and put African innovators, visionaries, developers and entrepreneurs in the spotlight. With workshops, talks and presentations, experts from DW Akademie and its partners showed what media development can achieve in the digital age.

DW Akademie continues to explore how digital technologies can foster freedom of expression and information. With media development projects it has long supported digital initiatives in Africa, cooperating with innovative players such as startups, software developers and emerging media companies. The partners' ideas are setting new impulses in media systems on the continent.

DW Akademie in Ghana – Digital innovation “Made in Africa”

With a vibrant tech and start up-scene, Ghana has positioned itself as a hub for digital innovation made in Africa. DW Akademie supports digital innovators in numerous ways. Partnering with two journalism education institutes in Ghana, for example, DW Akademie conducts training courses on digital journalism that range from mobile reporting to video production for social media.

A group of alumni of DW Akademie's trainings in Ghana.
A group of alumni of DW Akademie's trainings in Ghana.© DW/J. Elvers-Guyot

To promote media freedom and access to information, DW Akademie works closely with Ghanaian organizations such as Penplusbytes, an Accra-based NGO that promotes citizen participation and good governance through the use of information technology.

With DW Akademie support, Penplusbytes has developed and runs an Open Government Platform to increase the transparency of actions by local public authorities. The platform is designed so that citizens and journalists can view their district's current budget and investment data in order to trace how funds are actually being used.

In town hall meetings, organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (also a DW Akademie partner), the platform's data then serve as the basis for discussions with local officials. Ghanaian journalists have also received training in budget reporting and the basics of data journalism.

Prior to Ghana's December 2016 general elections, Penplusbytes developed the Social Media Tracking Centre. Its team monitored, fact checked and countered misinformation and hate speech spread on social media. Their approach was so effective that Ghanaian security authorities were persuaded not to block or shut down internet services ahead of and during the elections.

Jemila Abdulai was one of the experts interviewed for the #speakup-barometer Ghana.
Jemila Abdulai was one of the experts interviewed for the #speakup-barometer Ghana.© DW/E Senftleben

Jeremiah Sam, Penplusbytes' program director and a journalist himself, gave an expert talk and shared his experiences at DW Akademie's information booth on December 15.
Sam has also been one of the experts involved in the #speakup baromoter, an ongoing DW Akademie research project that examines the state of digital participation in developing countries around the world. The Ghana results were first presented at the conference.

Promoting freedom of expression and media viability in the digital age

Media viability is a major focus of DW Akademie's digital portfolio, and coaches media organisations in finding a sustainable business model so that they can offer quality journalism on a sustainable basis.

DW Akademie is a strategic partner of Germany's Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ). The BMZ has worked with re:publica for the last four years, highlighting digitization for sustainable development.

© Deutsche Welle

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