African Election Project @Penplusbytes, working with key partners; Georgia Institute of Technology, Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) and EnoughisEnough (EiE) Nigeria, with support from the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) is currently implementing Ghana's first Social Media Tracking Centre (STMC) that will monitor the use of social media during Ghana's 2012 elections. The SMTC will provide a real time response mechanism on election irregularities, violence and other concerns by reaching out to key election stakeholders for immediate action.
According to Mr. Michael Ohene- Effah, Governance Advisor at DFID, "Ghana DFID welcomes and supports this ground-breaking social media tracking centre initiative.
Its ability to 'sweep' all social media during the 2012 general elections will afford civil society, state authorities and development partners the opportunity to know in real time public opinions, sentiments and attitudes relayed through different social media platforms in order for relevant actions to be taken."
Although there are several media monitoring activities in the mainstream media surrounding Ghana's 2012 elections, there is currently only a handful and often inefficient manual tracking of elections trends taking place in the growing social media environment.
The Social Media Tracking Centre (SMTC), therefore comes at an opportune time in addressing this challenge and ensuring an efficient social media monitoring capability among key actors covering Ghana's 2012 elections.
The real-time data capturing ability of the SMTC will allow for up-to-the minute tracking of incidents taking place in different areas around the country.
Also the centre will collate, analyze and transmit as alerts to relevant elections stakeholders' such the National Elections Security Task Force (NESTF), civil society actors, the media and Electoral Commission of Ghana among others all important incidents for necessary action to be taken.
Jerry Sam, Project Director of African Elections Project(AEP) reiterates the need for an SMTC, he says "with the rising interest and increased use of social media as a channel of communication, interaction and networking by a rising number of Ghanaians on the Ghana elections, we expect that monitoring social media powered by the SMTC will serve as early warning mechanism thereby contributing significant reduction of electoral violence while at the same time ensuring transparent and free elections. "
African Elections Project (AEP) was established in 2008 with the vision of enhancing the ability of journalists, citizen journalists and the news media to provide more timely and relevant election information and knowledge while undertaking monitoring of specific and important aspects of governance. To date, we have covered elections in 11 African countries namely Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mauritania, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Togo and Niger and Liberia.