Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has expressed grave concern about the rising spate of false publications and misinformation within the Ghanaian media landscape.
According to him, the phenomenon is gradually undermining the democracy of the country and eroding the gains made over the years.
With a significant section of the Ghanaian population now relying on online platforms and other social media platforms for information, he noted that some unscrupulous persons had resulted to using those channels to propagate falsehood and misinformation.
Speaking at the launch of a website for the Information Services Department (ISD) of the Ministry of Information in Accra, Oppong Nkrumah stated that “This phenomenon is gradually undermining our democracy.”
23.05m internet users
The state of digital in Ghana in 2023 report indicates that there are 23.05 million internet users in Ghana at the start of 2023, when internet penetration stood at 68.2%.
6.6m social media users
Ghana is home to 6.6 million social media users in January 2023, equating to 19.5% of the total population.
43.88m cellular mobile connections
A total of 43.88 million cellular mobile connections are active in Ghana in early 2023, with this figure equivalent to 129.8% of the total population.
68.2% internet penetration
Ghana’s internet penetration rate stood at 68.2% of the total population at the start of 2023.
The platform which is a website called Ghana Today is a reliable news portal that provides accurate information on government projects, programmes, communications and positions.
The website, www.ghanatoday.gov.gh, has been created with the aim of combating public misinformation, a phenomenon that has been on the ascendancy, with the establishment of multiple private media outfits and blogs.
Objective of the portal
The main objective of the portal will be to disseminate information directly from the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies, about the works of Government and becoming a repository of all happenings in government.
Oppong Nkrumah in his address stressed that the launch of the news website forms part of the Ministry’s duties of supervising ISD and supporting Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to communicate regularly.
The portal, the Minister noted, will provide facts about government projects and programmes, as well as full texts of all speeches by heads of MDAs, official communications and publications, and policies and programme documents to reduce the level of misrepresentations and misinformation online.
Re-organization and retooling Programme
Oppong Nkrumah indicated that the launch of this project by the ISD forms an integral part of the re-organization and retooling Programme, and is aimed at equipping the Department to serve more audiences with its work even as the times and media consumption patterns change.
He said, “a significant section of our population now relies on online platforms and other social media platforms for information. It is also important to note that some unscrupulous persons have used many of these portals and social media platforms to propagate falsehood and misinformation. This phenomenon is gradually undermining our democracy.”
Fight against misinformation
He continued, “the rollout of this website will, therefore support the department in the fight against misinformation.”
Repository of all happenings in govt
He further indicated that it will provide “direct information from Ministries, Departments and Agencies about the works of government and become a repository of all happenings in government.
Sensitisation of the public
He said, over the years, the ISD had played critical role in the sensitisation of the public on major issues of national interest, including the construction of the Akosombo dam; re-introduction of the 17 per cent VAT after a previous failed attempt; introduction of the new Ghana cedi in 2007 and most recently, the creation of the six new regions and the E-Levy.
Those, he said, the Department had done through the use of various Public Education Campaign strategies and the deployment of Public Relations professionals and Regional and District Information Officers to MMDAS and MDAs.
Keeping up with ever-changing media landscape
However, he noted that, the Department had lost some steam in recent years, mostly due to the inability of successive administrations to equip it as well as keep up with the ever-changing media landscape and the advancement in technology.
In response to these challenges, Oppong Nkrumah stated that Cabinet has approved a Programme for the Department to undergo vigorous re-tooling and re-organization to meet the needs of the present day.
He indicated that the launch of the website formed an integral part of the re-organisation and retooling programme of the Department, aimed at equipping it to serve more audiences with its work even as the time and media consumption patterns changed.
He urged the staff to work quickly and accurately to ensure that the citizenry was reached with all the facts and the necessary documentation as soon as possible.
The Minister tasked ISD to “get to work with speed to ensure that the information and the documents reach ISD Media Today, so they are published. The regular delays in getting materials to your colleagues at ISD media will only undermine the potential efficacy of this very useful tool.”
He urged the general public who want to validate the information about Government works that they may come across, to visit the new website for the information they need.
On his part, the Acting Chief Information Officer of the ISD, Mr. David Owusu-Amoah urged Ghanaians to make use of the Ghana Today platform and to be vigilant in their consumption of online content.
He said it is important that “we all take responsibility for the information we consume and share and be mindful of the impact of false information on our society whiles working together to combat it.
“We all have a role to play in combating misinformation. We must all be responsible and verify information before sharing it. With this new tool, we hope to empower Ghanaians to take an active role in the fight against fake news.”
Mr Amoah, said that “at the inception of the ISD, there was no need to worry about misinformation.”
However, today due to the proliferation of news outlets, the struggle is against misinformation.”
Mrs Adiza Ofori-Adu, Head, Media Division, ISD, said the website would enrich dissemination of information on government’s projects and urged media houses to depend on it for authentic stories.
The ISD was established in the latter part of 1939, some 84 years ago, as a branch of the Colonial Government Secretariat dedicated to conveying news on the second World War to the people of the then Gold Coast through weekly journal.
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