Saturday, June 29, 2013


Presidential Canditates who constesd
the 2012  Elections in Ghana 
A very popular Ghanaian proverb affirms: “A child who knows how to wash his hands eats with kings.”
On 6th March 1957, when Ghana asserted itself as the first country in black Africa to wrench its independence from the colonial Britain, the country became the torchbearer of the black race and a global centre of political attention in Africa.
Since 1992 Ghana has held five successful presidential and parliamentary elections in the midst of democratic turbulent in continental elections. This feat motivated the international community to describe Ghana as the “beacon of democracy in Africa.
In fact, the European Union has politely declined an invitation to come down and observe 2012 elections in Ghana. In their estimation, Ghana has proved beyond doubt that the country has democratically matured and can manage its own electoral affairs without external supervision. This is the highest honor any African country can dream to attain in geo-politics.
Yet, the Former UN Secretary General Dr Kofi Annan has cautiously   noted that, “the best is yet to come.”   Dr Kofi Annan was recently reported in the Ghanaian media as saying, “When elections are conducted in integrity, without being disfigured by election motivated violence that is democracy.”
“Flawed elections can create unrest, setting back development by decades,” the wise veteran international diplomat opined.  Repercussions of election violence in some African countries such as Kenya, Serra- Leon and Cote d’Ivoire are still serving as scars on the conscience of Africa.
In seven days from the date of writing this piece, precisely on Friday, 7th December 2012, over 13million biometric registered voters Ghanaian will go to the polls to elect a president out of eight presidential candidates and 275 parliamentarians.
The writer has observed that the fear of the unknown is causing national psychological anxiety amongst Ghanaian electorates. The anxiety is even more intense amongst the presidential candidates themselves and their partisan supporters than the general electorates. Why? Because of the acrimonial campaign strategies some of the political parties have adopted as the voting date approaches. What to do?
Another Ghanaian proverb admonishes: “An elderly person at home does not sit down   to watch children engage in verbal argument that may lead to physical exchange of blows resulting in someone losing an eye or a tooth.” It was the traditional wisdom in this proverb that goaded Ghanaian elders to set a historical political record in Africa in 2012.  Do you want to know what happened?
On Tuesday, 27th November 2012, in cultural capital city of Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, within the premises of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KUNST) the National Peace Council did something that was unprecedented in the political history of Ghana if not in Africa.
   On that memorable day, the National Peace Council under the auspices of the modern Asante King, Otumfo Osei Tutu II, and with the technical and administrative support of an Accra –based Institute for
Democratic Governance, summoned all the presidential candidates to a rare meeting to pledge the people of Ghana that they would uphold peace, before, during and after the elections. Like prospective jobseekers   shortlisted for interview all eight presidential candidates humbly responded to the call.
President John Dramani Mahama, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dr Henry Lartey, the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Mr. Akwasi Addai, United Front Party (UFP), Mr. Hassan Ayariga, People’s National Convention (PNC), Dr Abu Sakara Foster, Convention People’s Party (CPP), who was represented by his running mate, Madam   Akosua Frimpomaa Sarpong Kumankuma and Mr. Joseph Osei Yeboah, Independent candidate,  all publicly signed a declaration to ensure peace during the December 7 polls.
The historic event was held under a broad them:  “Promoting peaceful elections and justice: Taking a stand against electoral violence, impunity and injustice.” The document to which the presidential candidates appended their signatures was dubbed as the “Kumasi Declaration” and was administered by no less a personality than the Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, Her Lordship Mrs. Justice Georgina Theodora Wood.  It was less like swearing an oath of office. And will hold them accountable to it.
The forum was made even more glamorous and glorious by the presence of the only two living Former Heads of state of the county since independence. They were President Jerry John Rawlings and President  John Agyekum Kufuor.  These statesmen did not only grace the occasion with their huge and giant physical persona but did share a few words of wisdom with those who were racing to sit on the hot throne they once occupied.
President Rawlings for instance, admonished that there was the need for fairness in the electoral process to prevent any unwanted situation. “Ghana has been blessed with peaceful transitions in the Fourth Republic and nothing must be made to dent this image,” he warned.
President Kufuor cautioned the presidential candidates not see the signing of the peace pact as something done for themselves but for the nation as a whole. “The security agencies and the Electoral Commission must do their work with diligence and honesty,” he advised.
Besides the two Former Commanders in- Chief  of the Ghana Armed Forces, current  Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Peter Augustine Blay, the Inspector General of Police, Paul Tawiah Quaye, and the President of the National House of Chiefs, Wulugu Naba Pugansua, Naa Professor John S. Nabila, were among the high profile personalities, who were at packed hall.
But one group of people who ought to be commended to the blue heaven is the religious gurus of our beloved country. From the Chairman of the Peace Council himself, the Most Rev Professor Emmanuel Asante, the Catholic Bishops Conference, the Christian Council, the Charistmatic Authorities, the Islamic Faith leaderships, the Traditional African Religious Authorities right down to ordinary church goes, Ghana must count itself blessed to be inhabited with souls that are amenable to peaceful co-existence regardless of race, creed or faith.
The purpose of this article is not to pretend to be holier than thou, but to politely refresh the memory of all compatriots that the entire globe is watching Ghana with one single eye. The world would want to see whether Ghana would be able once again conduct free, fair and peaceful elections in Africa.
As we go to the polls on that mystical day of 7th December, 2012, let us prove to ourselves and not anyone else that we are unique in the true sense of the word. Thant God is Ghanaian and Ghana is the chosen land of God to fulfill His own commandment of universal PEACE!

Writer is Deputy Director at the Information Services Department

Friday, June 28, 2013

Galamsey Operations   and Sustainable  Development in Ghana
By Mawutodzi Abissath

Environmental destruction of Galamsey operators
at work in Ghana
A popular Ghanaian proverb admonishes us thus: “ If you plant a tree before you die, your name will not die unless your tree also dies.”
Global lexicons of Ghanaian origin
Ghana seems to be one country in Africa that has ignited not only the taper  in the field of politics and democracy in terms of being the first black African nation to obtain independence in 1957.  Ghana has also contributed to the world “medico-scientific-lexicon”  where the term  “Kwashiorkor” , a Ga  word for  a childhood malnutrition disease that occurs when there is not enough protein in the diet.
Kwashiorkor is now a vocabulary that has been adopted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and has been in use since 1935 when a Jamaican pediatrician Dr. Cicely Williams was reported to have introduced it in medical community in her ‘Lancet article’, according to Wikipedia.
Anther  lexicon of Ghanaian origin in the field of technology  which  connotes negativity, though, but  is  gaining  global recognition is “Sakawa” which is widespread practice in Ghana that  combines modern  internet-based fraud practices with traditional religious rituals. The practice is mostly indulged in by the youth who are materialistically crazy and want to get rich quick without sweating in life.
Ghana is today confronted with an environmental catastrophe through “galamsey” which is a corrupt form for “gather and sell” simply refers to illegal small scale mining in our country. Galamsey has become another notorious lexicon of Ghanaian origin like Sakawa which is gaining global recognition as a vocabulary that can be written without putting it in quotes.
Many well-meaning Ghanaians are gravely concerned with the galamsey operations because they do not only affect the environment to the detriment of present generation but pose a threat to the very existence and survival of posterity as far as sustainable development and food security go.
Graphic Editorial
On Tuesday, June 11, 2013, the Daily Graphic wrote an editorial under the heading “Galamsey operations under fire,” (see page 7).  In that 20 paragraphs editorial comment, the paper focused on the work of the Inter-ministerial Task Force on illegal mining and their impact so far.
 The opening paragraph reads: “The move by the government to stop illegal mining in the country is yielding dividends.” And the 20th and last paragraph concludes:
“The DAILY GRAPHIC salutes the task force for a good work done so far, but they must keep their eyes on the ball to safeguard our natural resources for future generations.”
This author wants to pick it up from where the Daily Graphic’s editorial left off. What does the Daily Graphic mean by “… to safeguard our resources for future generations?” What are the natural resources and who are the future generations?  Well, on the face of the editorial page, the terms are common knowledge.
But in the humble view of this writer, natural resources and future generations go beyond what we all know or understand them to be.  Most times when scientists or experts use their technical jargons in their technical research papers, they end up confusing us ordinary mortals on this planet of environmental confusion.
Thus, biodiversity, in this context simply refers to our fufu with any type of soup or sauce, be it palm nut, ground nut, light-soup or whatever we eat with that fufu.  It also refers to the banku or akple with okra soup or tilapia gravy as well as Ga or Fante kenkey with ‘abom’ or shitor that we enjoy with our bare fingers and not fork and knife.
In fact, if you eat fufu or banku or kenkey or akple with cutlery, you will not be able to lick   your fingers where the taste comes from. I don’t think we can substitute this traditional way of enjoying food electronically even if they are digitally cooked through microwaves.
Again biodiversity encompasses other resources like wood we use for charcoal; herbs we use for herbal medicine for “cooco”; spices, barks, fruits, nuts, medicines and so on. In fact, God is good that He made these resources plentiful and we use them freely that we take them for granted.
Other biodiversity which mankind, especially we Ghanaians  take for granted is referred to as “bio-physical” which embodies all living and non-living things including natural resources such as freshwater bodies. The current sorry state of Korle, Sakomonoo and Kpeshie lagoons all in Accra illustrates the point.
Again, look at what galamsey criminals have done and continue to do to our major rivers such as Pra, Densu, and Ankobra, even the almighty Volta River are all being poisoned, polluted and contaminated with reckless abandon. When we kill our rivers and water bodies, they don’t die alone but go to the grave with all other aquatic creatures from tiny fishes like “one- man-thousand” to huge mammals like hippopotamus. Who cares?
Environmental Laws of Ghana
Coincidentally,  on the very  day that the Daily Graphic wrote the editorial in question,(June 11,2013)  the Ghanaian Times , too, carried  a full page advertisers statement from the Environmental Protection Agency titled: “Compliance Notice” The write-up contains  the Environmental Assessment Regulation 1999 (L.I.1652) (see page 17). This author wonders whether anybody enforces these regulations.  
Agricultural Biodiversity
Research indicates that “at least 10% of the total land area of Ghana is under some form of protection for sustainability. Ghana’s economy is said to be largely dependent on agriculture. And agricultural biodiversity includes all the components of biological diversity for food and agriculture. That it consists of ecosystems known as “ agro-ecosystems” which “ is composed of the variety and variability of animals, plants and other organisms, at the genetic, species system, its structure and processes.”
Agricultural experts say that Ghanaian agro-ecosystems include food and cash crop plantations on all kinds of landscapes, animals husbandry and production and fishery. That food crops cultivated in Ghana include cassava, yam, cocoyam, sweet potato, onion, pepper, tomato, cabbage, garden egg, and other species, nuts, pods and pulses which give us our mouth-watering meals.
In Ghana, cash crops cultivated, according to the experts include cocoa, cola, coffee, shea, nutmeg, oil palm, coconut and many others. This research finding is contained in a brochure published by the erstwhile Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology in commemoration of 2010 International Year of Biodiversity, sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme UNDP.
What actually motivated this author to write this article was the conclusion in that brochure. “All of these agro-ecosystems have replaced natural vegetation, especially forest vegetation. Agricultural biodiversity must be properly conserved and used sustainably to continue to provide goods and services for sustainable development.”
My question is, Can galamsey operations guarantee sustainable development (what the French call “développement durable” in Ghana?  
The author  works with the Information Services Department in Accra


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tanzania in Ghana for Africa Public Service Day Celebrations
By Mawutodzi Abissath

About 20 African countries currently participating in the 2013 African Public Service Day in the Ghanaian capital Accra deserve felicitation for their sense of service to their people. But if there is one particular country that can be described as “champion” at the exhibition segment of the event’ it cannot be other than Tanzania.
At the foyer of the Accra International Conference Centre where participating countries mount their stands to exhibit not only their public service activities but the cultural and tourism heritage of their homelands, Tanzania alone occupies about one-third (1/3) of available space where over 100 exhibitors smartly dressed in their national colours are  attending to  visitors with broad smiles.
Hon. Celina O.Kombani (MP) Tanzanian Minister for Public/Civil Service who is leading his country’s delegation was among those who addressed the conference during the opening ceremony held on Monday, June 17 here in Accra.
Speaking on the theme “Citizen’s participation should be broadened beyond access to information and third party monitoring,’ Hon. Kombani who is also the Minister of State, President’s Office Public Service Management of the United Republic of Tanzania, said it’s essential for African  leaders to strengthen the accountability of natural resource revenues. “It is important to use the social media to improve the public ability to track implementation of election promises and building public trust in terms of governance and managing vital activities,” she underlined.

According to Hon. Kombani, the media must also be involved in self-help projects and public private partnership in medium and large scale projects; adding that “development goals cannot be achieved without participatory and citizen-centric public governance. She explained that “surveys on governance are conducted to echo the general consensus that accountability, transparency and integrity are fundamental to achieving good governance, development goals, quality and access to public services by the citizens,” she opined.
The Tanzanian Minister pointed out that Management Development Institutes (MDIs) in Africa are facing a number of challenges including inadequate funding; capacity to undertake applied research, consultancies, and policy studies relevant to address critical issues facing the public services. “Some of these challenges are arising from competition from other Institutions at national, continental and international levels that are better funded.”

Hon. Kombani reminded participants, especially public servants that there is a need to have a vision that will inspire, motivate and align people and systems towards a shared common good that will enable Africa to overcome some of these various challenges, in order “to build the future Africa we want, guided by the spirit of Pan Africanism  and African renaissance,” she stressed.

According to the Minister, a capable developmental state is one that is committed to ensuring a better life for all its citizens, promotes popular participation and the indigenous ownership of its entire development agenda whose public service is people-oriented, based on meritocracy and driven by service to its citizenry.
She advised African leaders to communicate to the public so as to enhance genuine trust between leaders and citizens; always acting as role models by doing honestly what is right in the eyes of citizens and empower them and pay attention to their development needs.
 Hon. Kombina paid tribute to Ghana’s first President Dr. Kwame Nkurumah, whom she described as  Great Son of Africa . The Accra event is the 4thEdition of the biennial APSD which is being held during the fiftieth anniversary of AU under the theme of “Pan Africanism and African Renaissance”
 The United Republic of Tanzania has already hosted the event twice since 2000 and over 42 government institutions are participating in the Ghana version which is being organised by the Tanzanian President Office, Public Service Management.
On the face of the attendance sheet, with over 100 delegates, Tanzania can be said to have landed in Ghana with the largest number of participants. This shows how serious they are.  And they are obviously   living by their first President and Founding father of the United Republic of
Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, who once stated: “It can be done, play your part.”
Story by Mawutodzi Abissath with extra files and photographs from Florence Lawrence of United Republic of Tanzania

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Killing Africa through Environmental Criminality and Corruption
By Mawutodzi Abissath

Endangered Rhinos

Do you remember this popular saying that “When the last tree dies the last man, too, will die?”
Well, this author can ring the alarm bell that today, it is not only the last tree that is being butchered to death but the last animal is being strangulated as well as the last river being suffocated to demise   by environmental criminals.
Ghana Government
Most African countries including Ghana are confronted with critical environmental, health and sustainability challenges which require continental collaboration to tackle.  In Ghana, the devastating effect of illegal mining or the “galamsey criminality” is a typical example to cite for illustration.
Thank God, the Government of Ghana through the Inter-ministerial Taskforce against illegal mining which was inaugurated on April 4, 2013 by the President John Mahama, and officially commenced operation on June 1, is taking the bull by the horns. The taskforce must not allow itself to be detracted by forces of evil but work without fear or favour and go all out to reduce the galamsey nonsense to its barest minimum. If they fail to achieve their stated objective, posterity will curse this nation for ever and ever as far as agrarian environment and sustainable development is concerned.
World Environment Day
On Thursday, June 13, 2013, in the sanctum of the Multipurpose Room at the US Embassy in Accra, a round table discussion was held to commemorate the 2013 World Environmental Day. The theme for the event was ‘Current Situation and Threats to Biodiversity and Wildlife Conservation in Ghana and West Africa.”   The World Environment Day itself was celebrated on June 5, under a broad theme of “Think, Eat and Save.”  Of course, if the world does not think, eat and save, there will be no future.
A team of five environmental gurus, including Mr. Bryan Christy, a veteran international investigative journalist, author and contributing writer for National Geographic Magazine; Dr. Anne Dix, Regional Environmental Director, USAI/West Africa; Dr. David Kpelle, Ghana Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources; Dr. Augustus Asamoah, Ghana Wildlife Society, and Mr. Mustapha Kaluwe Seidu, World Wildlife Fund Program Coordinator. These were the panelists whose discussions focused on the importance of maintaining biodiversity not only in Ghana but across the West Africa sub-region and beyond.
Without exaggerating, all the speakers did justice to their various topics excellently. But if this writer were to be  granted  the privilege to  grade or rank their delivery on the scale of 1-10 where 10 is the highest and 1 the lowest,  the only journalist among them , Mr. Bryan Christy who is also a lawyer, would have  easily clocked 10 over 10.

Elephants in Togo
“Before arriving in Ghana,” started Mr. Bryan Christy extempore, “I was in some other West African countries including Benin and Togo,” he informed the audience. Then he went on,   “While in Lome, I met with that country’s Minister for Environment, who said something which will make you Ghanaians happy, “Mr. Bryan Christy hinted the audience.
According to Mr. Bryan Christy, the Togolese Minister for Environment told him that, when he (the Minister) as a small boy, traveling in northern Togo, in those day, it was common to come across a troop of elephants crossing the roads, and they were compelled to stop and wait for the huge animals, for over two hours or so, before they could continue with their journey.
Mr. Bryan Christy said the Togolese Environment Minister lamented that there was no longer a single elephant in Togo today. To the extent that anybody, especially tourists or the youth who were desirous of seeing an elephant, he had no option but to direct them to go to Ghana and see an elephant.
 As a matter of fact, when Mr. Bryan Christy concluded his anecdote, almost all participants in the room including this author burst into uncontrollable laughter. Naturally, any well-meaning Ghanaian hearing good news like that was bound to experience some inner tickling. Where did the Togo elephants go? The simple answer is that their habitats have been completely destroyed over the years.
Threatened biodiversity
Speaking from practical experience as an investigative journalist and writer for National Geographic Magazine, Mr. Bryan Christy who has traveled extensively across Africa and knows Africa more than some of us Africans, painted a very bleak picture of the threatened biodiversity and wildlife in Africa.
In the 1980s, according to Mr. Bryan Christy, Africa had over 1.3million elephants. “However, over 60,000 elephants are killed every year on the Continent,” he noted with concern.  Wildlife records also show that, while it is impossible to precisely track the population of elephants, rhinoceroses and tigers, illicit killings of these endangered species are reaching crisis proportions.
It is estimated that there are only 25,000 rhinos on this planet of environmental degradation, down from 600,000 in the mid-20th century. In South Africa, for instance, where most rhinos live, a survey has revealed that a rhino is murdered every 13 hours for its horn.
Research also indicates that there are roughly 600,000 elephants in the whole of Africa. And this is said to be one third the number a few decades ago. Experts now estimate that over 25, 000 African elephants were killed in 2011 alone for their ivory.
 As for tigers, it is estimated that, today, roughly 3,200 remain in the wild. It is said that this figure constitutes just 3percent of the number a century ago. Research further shows that even though fewer tigers are being killed, yet there is a conservation crisis. “Tigers have become extinct in 11 out of 24 Asian countries where they once thrived,” US Embassy document distributed at the proramme  reveals.
Like the galamsey situation in Ghana where some indigenous people and local forest guards are shot dead in cold blood for challenging illegal miners or chainsaw operators, so, too, reports indicate that local rangers and law enforcement authorities in illicit poaching “are no march for poachers armed with AK-47 and grenade launchers or trafficking networks.” These environmental offenders have the tendency “to corrupt government officials to facilitate moving the poached animal parts across borders.”
Consequences of animal trafficking
Mr. Bryan Christy again made a point during question time that even though there were no elephants in Togo it was estimated that several tones of ivory find their way to Asia through that country. Environmental authorities warn that in some countries proceeds from poached wildlife “likely finance the purchase of weapons and ammunitions, which end up exacerbating regional and cross-border conflicts.”
Health authorities also regret that wildlife trafficking may pose a public health risk. It is said that up to 75 percent of human diseases – such as SARS, avian influenza or Ebola virus – may be caused by infectious agents transmitted from animals to humans.
In fact, State Department’s Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science officials in the USA have established the fact that illicit trade of animals or their parts bypasses public health control and can put human population at risk for diseases.
Again, environmental experts are of the view that illicit trade in threatened and endangered is not only a multi-billion-dollar business, but it threatens peace and security in Africa and Asia. Loss of biodiversity also affects freshwater supplies and food production, and it robs local communities of economic resources, experts opined.
This is exactly what is happening in Ghana where galamsey upheavals are making it impossible for rural communities to get fresh-water to drink because their rivers and streams are poisoned, polluted, and contaminated beyond scientific treatment. If a care is taken, Africa will be wiped off the face of the earth through environmental criminality and corruption.

Author is an officer at the Information Services Department, Accra.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

GIFEC  Uploads Ghana  on Global Portal of ICT in India  

By Mawutodzi Abissath

Hon. Kofi Attor, GIFEC Administrator (right) receiving
the Award from Dr.Hamadoun I.Toure, ITU General
There is this Ewe proverb which can be interpreted to mean: “Any talented kid who can dance exceptionally well, it is his mother’s name that is enquired.”
The Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) may be relatively an infant industry player in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the country; yet it has succeeded in planting Ghana flag on the world map of communications by winning an international award that brought honour to Ghana.
On Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at the India International Centre, New Delhi, India, under the .auspices of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO), with the support of   the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), GIFEC made an unprecedented history by clocking the 2013 World Communication, Multimedia and Infrastructure Association of India’s (CMAI) premium prize.
 The occasion was the 7th National Telecom Awards ceremony (NTA) organized by the Government of India in collaboration with several Industry Associations in that country. The event which coincided with 2013 Global ICT Forum was held from May 6-8, 2013 and was reportedly attended by over 1000 international delegates from across the face of the earth.
  In fact, GIFEC chalked up this feat for Ghana alongside other nominated world class companies such as TATA, INTEL, ERICSSON, NOKIA, ALCATEL-LUCENT, AIRTEL, BHARTI, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) and several others who also received awards in various categories at the same event.
But GIFEC outclassed not only other contesting countries from Africa but the industry players in the whole world. This explains why GIFEC received the Most Outstanding Universal Access Fund and Service Award which fixed Ghana in the centre of the world ICT atlas.
We in Ghana ought to make noise about GIFEC’s Award because if we fail to blow our horns positively, we should not blame others when they come and destroy our natural resources and produce negative documentaries to denigrate our country in the eye of the world. GIFEC’s award was in recognition of its excellent performance in the operation of the Universal Access Fund and Service in our mother land.
Do you remember the biblical adage that a prophet is hardly recognized in his own hometown? This author doesn’t recall whether any local Excellence Award organizers have yet noticed the existence of GIFEC, let alone take note of what it is doing in the ICT industry in the country.
In Ghana, it is a vogue to see or hear some contestants who may fail to win one award or the other pointing accusing fingers at someone; or sometimes engage in verbal knock-backs with event organisers. 
So, how come Ghana could win such a prestigious international award by outplacing such giant ICT and Telecom industry players of the world, with standing ovation? Has there been any “kullulu” or “wagadri” in the process of awarding this much-sought-after laureate to Ghana? I wanted to ‘cross-examine the chief witness’ in the ceremony.
Thus, in the afternoon of Tuesday, June 4, 2013, to ascertain the integrity of Ghana’s award, I armed myself with a set of probing questions to interview Hon. Kofi Attor, the Chief Executive and Administrator of GIFEC, who actually went to India to receive the coveted award on behalf Government and the people of Ghana.
At the appointed time, I was  warmly ushered in his office by a charming angel serving as secretary. I politely greeted the man who was busily appending his signatures to some cheques.  But before I could fire my first question at him, the GIFEC boss handed to me a three-page-document.  “This is a  copy of an address I  delivered last week at a Press Conference   to brief the Ghanaian media upon my  return from India with the award,” Hon. Kofi  Attor told me.
With a concentrated attention, I went through the write-up reading it in between the lines. I must confess that I was completely disarmed, when I finished reading the piece. Why? I realised that all my queries had been answered in the statement.
 And I admitted this to him.  The only clarification I thought was sensible to seek was to ascertain whether Ghana did apply for the award, or submitted some works for consideration as was the accepted norms.  Again, I was more dumbfounded when Hon. Attor stated that GIFEC did not even know about the Award in advance.
He explained that it was the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization, headquartered in the UK that nominated GIFEC without their knowledge. There he proceeded and showed me the magnificent golden plaque received from the hands of no less a personality than Dr. Hamadoun TOURE, the Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union, ITU at the event.
Without much ado, I expressed my gratitude for his hospitality, shook hands with the GIFEC Administrator and said cheerio. My curiosity was satisfied. Ghana won the award on merit. Period!
But what specific criteria were used by CTO to nominate Ghana for the consideration of the award? Apparently, although GIFEC cannot be said to be one of the most vociferous agencies in the country, it has been identified as one of the most focused and efficient service providers of Universal Access Fund to the poor and maginalised people in Ghana.
It cannot be disputed that Ghana still has long kilometers to travel in terms of bridging the digital gap between the urban and rural areas in the country. Nevertheless, if today, some school children in most deprived, unserved and underserved rural communities in the country have had the opportunity to see and touch computers in their life, it is thanks to GIFEC.
If most teacher training colleges now known as Colleges of Education in various Districts have computer laboratories on their various campuses, it is by the kind courtesy of GIFEC.
And one practical means by which GIFEC was able to deploy ICT tools such as computers, internet connectivity, mobile telephony, desktop television, multi-media service, as well as computer literacy closer to the door steps of rural dwellers, especially the rural youth, is through the establishment of the Community Information Centres (CICs) administered by GIFEC under the ministerial over sight of the Ministry of Communications.
It is this pivotal role being played by GIFEC by ensuring that every Ghanaian child, woman or man regardless of their geographical locations in the country,  have universal access to electronic communications including broadcasting services and broadband; School Connectivity Project (SCP), the Common Telecommunication Facility (CTF); the Easy Business Centre Project (EBCP) and others was what has attracted the attention of the international community for CTO to nominate GIFEC for the laureate.
Records also show that GIFEC, on the quiet, has been partnering with Ghanaian fisher folks in rural communities with the use of some basic electronic fishing gadgets to enhance their fishing business to increase their harvest to improve on their living standards.

Writer is Deputy Director/Head IT, Information Services Department, Accra