Saturday, October 22, 2011


By Mawutodzi K. Abissath

The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), October 21, 2011, launched a Social Media website within the premises of the association’s headquarters at the International Press Centre in the Ghanaian capital of Accra.
For the benefit of those colleague international journalists who are yet to visit Ghana, Ghana’s International Press Centre is strategically located adjacent to the premier communication training school in Africa, the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) nested in the greenery foliage opposite the British High Commission in the heart of Accra.
Mr. Ransford Tetteh, President of GJA, who performed the launching ceremony, encouraged Ghanaian media practitioners, both ancient and modern, popularly referred to as traditional journalists or online journalists, to embrace the social media in vogue, which is the future of the noble profession. “Whether we like it or not, the social media has come to stay. We have no choice but to embrace it,” he stressed.

The GJA President took the opportunity to advise about 80 trainee journalists present, who were purposely selected from various communication training institutions in the country to take advantage of available technologies to learn more about the social media such as tweeter , face book, flikr, YouTube, blogging etc , while in school.
The occasion itself was the 10 the anniversary celebration of the coming into being of the PenPlusBytes International Institute of ICT Journalism under the initiative of Mr. Kwame Ahiabenu II.
The event brought together some top-notch industry players and veteran journalists to share their loaded experiences with up and coming journalists who are to take over the mantle of journalism practice with all the information and communication technology at their command.
For example, Dr. Kwabena Riserson, Research Scientist and Information Management Programme of the Institute of Industrial Research (CSIR) delivered the keynote address and reminded participants that development will be a mirage without science and technology.
Mr. Kenneth Ashigbey, CEO of Joy FM and MD- in-waiting of the Graphic Communications Group was in the chair for the programme. He told trainee journalists that the media landscape is fast changing where the multimedia convergence is the order of the day.
Mr. Mawutodzi K. Abissath, Deputy Director and Head of ICT at the Information Services Department (ISD) of Ministry of Information, was present to enlighten student journalists about the functions of the Government of Ghana Portal (GoG Portal) .
Mr. Abissath told young journalists that the GoG Portal is the official website of the Republic of Ghana where authentic and accurate information about Ghana ranging from Presidential State of Nation Addresses, Annual Budget Statements of Ministry of Finance, Parliamentary Bills and Acts, Profile of Ministers of states, Speeches and Policy Documents can be obtained free of charge.
He said the GoG Portal is “one-stop-non-stop- information shop” on Ghana ; adding that it is the electronic gateway to Ghana where investors go to access relevant and reliable information about Ghana before they emplane to land in the land of hospital people of Ghana. ’It is the website for researchers, journalists, educators, and students undertaking project works,’ he noted.

Other experts who did presentations at the workshop included representatives of Myjoyonline, on the topic: Revenue models for onlinenews; Citifmonline, Edge cube, Ghanaweb,all of spoke on the theme: Online News Publishing and Online tools for gathering news - Dot house.

Other important topics discussed were Modern trends in broadcast technologies by a representative from Viasat1; Mobile Journalism - SMSGH,Mobile Centent;and Mr. Daniel Maafo C.T.O of BulksSMS.

The workshop ended with a Keynote address on Social media and journalism- ENHANCING YOUR FUTURE AS A JOURNALIST THROUGH ONLINE JOURNALISM. This was delivered via Video Conference technique by the Director of the MIT Centre for Civic Media, USA. The event was described by one student trainee as "an eye opener experience".

The Communication Training Institutions whose students participated in the programme were the Ghana Institution of Journalism, the School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, the Winner University of Education, the Africa University College of Communication and the Jayee University College.
M.K.Abissath, reporting from the GJA Headquarters in Accra


(c) All photographs published here were taken by the writer and blogger Mawutodzi K.Abissath

Thursday, October 20, 2011



All photographs published on this blog were taken by Mawutodzi Kodzo Abissath
Ghanaian Bilingual Journalist, Writer, Poet and Blogger. Credit must go to the ECOWAS/ECA/UNESCO/UNDP/and AU who made it possible for Western African Science Journalists to benefit from the first Science Communication Training Workshop held in Abuja, Nigeria, from October, 17 - 19, 2011 under the theme: Making Science and Technology Information More Accessible for Africa's Development.

M.K.Abissath Reporting from Accra, Ghana


By Mawutodzi K. Abissath
ECOWAS/ECA initiated two-day science communication training workshop for identified Western African journalists, came to a successful close on Tuesday, October 18 in the magnificent Nigerian capital city of Abuja, with a call on science journalists to be open-mined.
They must live a life of a walking question mark , with their noses always sniffing for accurate science and technology information, which must not only be made available and affordable but also more accessible for Africa’s development for the prosperity of the citizens of the Continent.
Forty (40) participants made up of top-notch communication training institutions, high level representatives from ECA, UNESCO, ECOWAS, ICT experts, scientists and specialist science and technology journalists, took part in the energy sapping intellectual deliberation which could best be described as brain-storming event.
Without exaggeration, one can characterize delegates of the training workshop as ‘Commanders-in-Chief’ of development communication, who called for an emergency session to plot strategies to launch an attack on problems confronting Africa’s development. The strategy sought to deploy journalists as the first infantry battalions, who were armed with Science, Technology and Innovation as weapons to move onto the battle field. It was fireworks all the way! Intellectual and academic debates ensued.
Deliberations were frank amidst heated but friendly arguments of give and take. People spoke their minds freely without looking over their shoulders. Naturally, no genuine forum of journalists can flourish without some kinds of controversy. As a matter of fact, there was one topic on “Reporting on Controversies – Ethics in reporting science controversies”
Like other speakers, the resource person from Ghana expressed his views with passion. He felt rather disappointed that Africa was crawling instead of flying on the developmental plane on this planet of science and technology. He could not fathom why Africa should be wallowing in abject poverty with all the resources at its command.
When he was challenged by a Professor from Nigeria that it was not totally correct to create the impression that Africa was not developing, he agreed with the view that something was being done. But he reminded the learned Professor of the natural resources such as gold, diamond, bauxite, uranium, oil and gas etc, with which the Continent was endowed.
He opined that if half of those resources were to be allocated to some other countries like, Singapore, Israel and others, the Continent would have been feeding, clothing and sheltering the entire world with ease.
At the end of it all, a comprehensive pack of recommendations were drawn up and adopted. An African Network of Science Journalists was launched and a ten-member (10) Steering Committee set up to ensure the implementation of the adopted recommendations.
Mr. Thierry Amoussougbo, Regional Advisor, ICT, Science and Technology Division of ECA, who chaired this gamut of ceremony of drafting, reading, adoption, nomination and inauguration of the steering committee, told members to live up to expectation.

Mr. Thierry Amoussougbo, ECA
Dr. Fackson Banda Programme Specialist Communication Development Division of Communication and Information Sector of UNESCO assisted Mr. Amoussougbo with his expertise in drafting of the recommendations. He did not mince his words at all when he told the Committee members in the face to “stop talking and work and work, and work,” he stressed

Dr. Fackson Banda, UNESCO

Among other things, the recommendations were premised on the fact that, “Science, technology and innovation have served as the foundations of social and economic well-being since the beginning of human civilization.”
That Africa cannot meet its healthcare, water, infrastructure, education, employment needs, develop industries and overcome economic challenges without significant investment in science, technology and innovation.
That poor relationship which exists between scientists, research institutions and journalists tends to affect effective communication; adding that only effectively communicated knowledge could benefit individuals with the power and skills to put that knowledge in practical application e.
Participants took special note of the tremendous efforts UNESCO is making in building science journalism capacity on the African continent.
As part of the workshop programme, some of the representatives of the UNESCO Reference Centres of Excellence were given the opportunity to brief participants on activities of their respective countries. These countries included Niger, Guinea, Senegal, Burkina-Faso and Nigeria.
Workshop participants also commended the efforts made by ECOWS, ECA, UNDP, AU and other individuals and organizations for the realization of the programme. This workshop happened to be the first of its kind. Resources were limited and the organization had not been easy at all.
It is the noble intention of the organizers to extend this training programme to journalists of other sub-regions such as Eastern, Central, Southern and Northern Africa to galvanize science journalists to champion the development agenda of Africa by making science and technology information available, affordable and accessible to all.
First batch of journalists who benefited from the training workshop were drawn from Burkina-Faso, Liberia, Guinea, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal as well as African Federation of Science Journalists, (AFSJ), USECO, ECA, ECOWAS and AU.
May I suggest that in future, some African millionaires like Moh Ibrahim and former African Heads of State like H.E. President Olusegu Obasanjor should be approached for sponsorships to supplement the efforts of ECOWAS. I have no doubt that some of them would be willing to support.

M. K. Abissath @ ECOWAS
Secretariat, Abuja, Nigeria
Mawutodzi Kodzo Abissath is Ghanaian Bilingual Journalist, writer and poet
He served as one of the Resource Persons of the Science Communication Training Workshop Abuja, Nigeria, held from October, 17 – 19, 2011
Old Blog:


By Mawutodzi K. Abissath

A two-day intensive Science Communication Training Workshop, aimed at helping journalists and writers to create awareness about the importance of science and technology in the development of Africa opened yesterday, October 17, Abuja, Nigeria.
The workshop which is being attended by about 35 participants including selected ICT journalists from West Africa, communication educators, science and technology experts, technocrats and others, is under a broad theme: “Making Science and Technology Information More Accessible for Africa’s Development.
Engineer Umar Bindir, Director General, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Nigeria, who delivered the Key Note Address at the ECOWAS Conference Centre noted that the time had come for African scientists to go beyond the traditional way of agric production with hoe and cutlasses and indulge in large and modern plantation cultivation system to feed the continent

Engineer Umar B. Bindir (left) Deliver of Keynote Address at the workshop
Dr. Bindir could not understand why after 50 years of independence, not a single African country could be classified among 100 developed economies of the world, despite resources of the continent. NOTAP Director-General expressed regret when he once sighted a document that cited Bangladesh and Nigeria as the epitome of “poor countries”. He vowed to ensure that Nigeria at attained the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2020. He has propounded a theory of 7777 Development Plan for Nigerian
Dr. Bindir, expects that each seven- year (7) period will see Nigeria achieving specific development strategy.
Mr. Thierry Amoussougbo, Regional Advisor Officer, ICT, Science and Technology Division (ISTD) Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) based in Ethiopia, who is the brain behind the training workshop for journalists, called on African journalists to endeavour to communicate in the language that would help ordinary citizens for the development of the Continent.

Mr. Thierry Amoussougbo, (right) Brain-child of workshop, directing affairs.
Other speakers of the day included Dr. Kyari Mohammed, Scientific Officer, African Union, Commission-STRC, Lagos, Mr. Joseph Ngu, Director of the UNESC, Office, Abuja, Nigeria, Mr. Diran Onifade, Publisher, and President, African Federation of Science Journalist for Development.
Others were Dr. Roland Kouakou, Chief Division Science and Technology, ECOWAS, and Dr. Jean-Pierre Ilboudo, Regional Adviser for communication and information, UNESCO, Addis Ababa as was as Dr. Fackson Banda, Programme Specialist, Communication Development Division, Communication and Information Sector, based in Paris, France, who flew in to place his expertise at disposal of the workshop organizers for the benefit of Science Reporters.
The training workshop which formally ends, Tuesday, October 18 being sponsored by the African Union (AU), United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Department of Human Resource Science and Technology (HRSTC) of the African Union Commission, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in collaboration with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Nigeria.

Experience From UNESCO’s Reference And Excellence Centers.

Delegates whose portraits appeared on pages 3 & 4 of this article including Niger, Guinea, Burkina-Faso, Senegal and Nigeria briefly up-dated participants about progress and challenges of UNESCO Reference and Excellence Centres in their respective countries.

• Mawutodzi K. Abissath, Bilingual ICT Journalist & Resource Person from Ghana, Reporting from Abuja, Nigeria!