Friday, January 29, 2010

3 ways Governments can get closer to its citizens

world wide webImage by alles-schlumpf via Flickr

This week I wrote a post on how Ghana could copy the way US is leveraging on the power of technology and social media to reach out more to the citizens. Obama's state of the Union address was made available live to more people and in more ways than any event hosted since the Obama’s Inauguration. More than 1,300,000 people tuned into to the live video feed of the President’s State of the Union Address provided on the White House blog. After the speech, over 50,000 people stayed on to watch and engage with administration officials during a live Facebook event. Below are three lessons all governments can learn from the US example.

Start a blog, and be sincere about your issues
In this social media era, blogs are a very dependable way of disseminating information of any kind; good and bad. Just as the White House of US has started a blog to discuss happenings in government, I believe other local governments can do similar. The number of Ghanaians online is not as encouraging as it is supposed to be, but there still is a good number of Ghanaians with Internet access who would love to read reliable information presented by a source such as its own government official.

Catch them online via Facebook, twitter youtube
My research shows that there are 277,600 Ghanaians on facebook, some of these people access these platforms (especially Facebook and Twitter) via mobile. I believe very healthy discussions can be organisd on facebook chats and on twitter. Issues can be addressed online and questions answered by authorities in power.

Listen to its citizens online
Many aggrieved citizens vent their frustrations online by stating it in their facebook statuses, commenting on posts or by writing a post on the issue. There are many different smart tools the government can use to keep track of what its citizens are "saying" or discussing online. I believe this will help the authorities make better decisions in most cases.
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Anonymous said...

Good suggestions, but the reality is that the majority of Ghanaians are not online or are not comfortable online. Town hall meetings/forums where people can directly speak to our government officials and ask questions may be more effective in reaching the masses.

Edward of PathGhana said...

@ Anonymous - Good point made there.There are over 250,000 Ghanaians on Facebook, and I strongly believe there are more on other social networks and sites. I believe a healthy discussion can commence from these platform and the numbers will grow from there.