Thursday, August 1, 2013

By Mawutodzi Abissath

Have you ever heard this sarcastic popular saying that, “If you want to hide something from a black man, put it in a book?” 

 Well, there may be some half-truths in this observation. However, in the opinion of this author, that scornful statement can be characterized as a fallacy of “hasty- generalization” in terms of logic.

Because, even though one may be able to hide something from a black man by putting it  in a book some of the time, it is not true that something put in a book can always  be hidden from all black people all of the time.

Mr. Kafui Prebbie, a young Ghanaian “techy savvy,” like many African bookworms, vows that no one on this planet of knowledge boom can hide anything from him by putting that thing in a book. And it is my considered view that there are many black men and women who can simply be described as “bibliophile” because they can hardly take away their noses from books.
On Tuesday, July 9, 2013, within the premises of the State Boys School, Kumasi the noble consort of Asantehene, Lady Julia Osei Tutu Community Knowledge Center (CKC) was inaugurated by the madam herself under the auspices of The Otumfuo Osei Tutu II Charity Foundation. The event was very brief but colourful and witnessed by a multitude including this writer.
Mr. Kafui Prebbie Chief Executive Officer of TechAide, an Accra-based up-and-coming ICT firm, was among several other development partners who contributed in diverse ways for the realization of the Community Knowledge Centre project.  The Kumasi CKC is the first of two pilots projects earmarked for the Ashanti Region. The second one is expected be launched at Kenyasi for the benefit of rural communities. Vital Capital Fund is supporting the project financially.
 As a matter of fact, TechAide among other things,  provided IT technical services in terms of designing, installation, supplying and provision of unique Inveneo Certified low voltage computers, ICT hardware and software as well as technical training of the CKC Manager at over 100,00dollars value.
To throw more light on the involvement of TechAide in taking knowledge to rural and deprived people in Ghana through the establishment of community libraries, Mr. Prebbie granted an interview to this writer after the inauguration of the CKC in the Ashanti capital.
 According to Mr. Prebbie, between December 2010 and July 2011, a research study into the perception of public libraries was conducted in six African countries including Ghana. The other countries were Ethiopia. Kenya, Tanzania Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The study was commissioned by a European-based international not-for-profit organization known as EIFL’s Public Library Innovation Programme (PLIP). The actual research was conducted by TNS RMS East Africa. The focus of the study was to explore perceptions of public libraries in Africa among different stakeholders including people who use libraries and those who do not; government decision-makers, librarians themselves and library officials.
“The basic objective of the research was to better understand the status and role of libraries in Africa the vision, aspirations and expectations of library stakeholders,” disclosed Mr. Prebbie in our tête ă tête.  TechAide boss explained that the finding of the study was used to inform an outreach and advocacy efforts to build and strengthen policies and long-terms support for public libraries.
“In all the six African countries, an overwhelming majority of stakeholders - library users and non-users, librarians, library officials, government decision makers – perceive public libraries to be for books and study rather than spaces for technical innovation and provision of community development services,” the study revealed.
According to Mr. Prebbie, “only five percent of users and non-users associate libraries with information communication technology (ICT).”  The study also established a fact that funding for libraries is very low in local communities due to poverty. “Yet, all stakeholder groups believe that library services can improve lives and livehoods and contribute to community development goals,” the study concluded.
TechAIDE Chief Executive Officer disclosed that it was the findings of this research that most Africans, especially Ghanaians perceived libraries only as a place where books were stored rather than associate them with ICT. “This is what motivated me to embark of advocacy not only to create awareness about the benefit of library services for economic prosperity but to take knowledge to the door steps of rural poor through technology,” he stressed.
TechAide  is a technology social enterprise that is development-oriented and is poised to take knowledge to rural Ghana, by first conducting need assessments of the rural communities before providing professional services in various fields such as IT consulting and  training; project design and development; as well as technology project management, supply, installation and support services.
Other technology partners of TechAIDE who supported and witnessed the launching of the first ever Community Knowledge Centre in diverse ways in Kumasi were the Information Services Department (ISD) of the Ministry of Information and Media Relations, National Information Technology Agency and Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) all of the Ministry of Communications and the Ghana Library Authority; Vital Capital Fund, Appleseeds Academy, Google and Vodafone.

TechAID  Technology Partners cheerfully waiting
 for  their flight at theDomestic  Departure Hall
 in Accra Airport   en route to Kumasi

Mr. Kafui Prebbie, CEO, TechAID briefing Partners
 on arrival at the Community Knowledg Centre in Kuamsi 

Lady Julia Osei Tutu (sited middle) Wife of Otumfuo  Osei Tutu II

sharing  ideas  with some Development
 Partners after commissioning the CKC

School children and members of the public trooping
 to see what  the CKC has in stock for them

Unique Inveneo Certified Low Voltage 
Computers donated by TechAID to CKC

Mr. Prebbie hands over the special computers to
 the Ashanti Regional Director Ghana Library Board

Members of the public going round to view facilities at the CKC

Mr. Kafui Prebbie (left) explaining a point to 
a Journalist Mr. Kamel Nasan of GNA (second right)

TechAIDE CEO (back to camera) dramatising  things  
with passion to Technology Partners from Accra

Group photograph of  Technology Partners from Accra
 and some staff of TechAID who witnessed the event in Kumasi

Lady Julia Osei Tutu (middle)   with her royal entourage 
posed for the cameras at the end of the grand ceremony

  • Story and Photographs by Mawutodzi Kodzo Abissath, Deputy Director/Head of IT at the Information Services Department (ISD) of the Ministry of Information and Media Relations