One fundamental responsibility of every government is to provide accurate and timely information to its citizenry. To achieve this, various governments across the world have designed different approaches to merit consideration at the governance level as part of their digital transformative agenda.
In the case of Ghana, the community engagement approach has been adopted, a system that keeps citizens informed on project progress and ways of improving quality of life. The community engagement approach is done through the local governance system. The local governance system operational at the grassroots level is continuously in contact with the people. For this reason, their decisions and or indecisions are subject to close scrutiny by the people taking into consideration their exposure and experience levels.
It is factually correct to suggest that effective communication with employees, political class, traditional rulers, and community members play a vital role in local government administration and for that matter, further exploration of this area is timely and relevant.
In spite of this acknowledgment, inter-agency communication has not been effective and therefore needs to be revisited. It is, for this reason, that innovative and culturally appropriate communication interventions are desperately needed to address this identifiable gap across Ghana’s robust decentralization process. Communication at this level should be aimed at improving transparency, participation and collaboration. However, this sector is constrained by weak or poor government communication systems.
The communication gap at this level could be attributed in part to the traditional use of one-way, ‘offline’ communication channel, which does not provide substantial feedback, impedes productive dialogue between and among agencies and in most cases useless or dead on arrival due to time lag.
As a mitigation strategy, most agencies have begun exploring the benefits offered by social media and or design their own websites to suit their use and purpose. Surprisingly, a major setback confronting them is that most of these mediums are hardly updated and could best be described as static communication. Technically, such web platforms are intended to offer a broader range of interactive features to inform the public about the activities of government.
Notwithstanding the above, the vast majority of communication strategies available today have been urban-biased to the detriment of their rural counterparts. Their accessibility, utilization, and functionality are constrained by their poor rural setting. As a measure to address these holistically a critical consideration of the following is highly commendable:
The local governance structure should adopt a standardized multilevel communication approach that will ensure transparency, accountability, and coordination.
Community participation in local-level programming must be encouraged, the capacity of staff to communicate effectively across sectors must be improved, and a combination of all three tailored to meeting set targets.
It is to address the above that a tailored communicative tool, which is user friendly even to the technophobic has to be designed locally, by way of significant field observations.
Such a communicative tool should come with an inbuilt evaluative mechanism to accept changes that merit consideration across multi-level functional plans without information or detail loss and consistent with data security management principles.
By Frank Ofosu-Asante