Stakeholders dialogue on political messaging


Media experts at a public forum have advocated for the use of strategic communication as the foundation for nation building. The public forum is the first in a series of public lectures and forums being organized by the Department of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, to mark its year-long golden jubilee celebrations.

Delivering the keynote address on the theme, “Communicating development beyond politics: Can the tenet of strategic communications help in a digital era?” Mr Kojo Yankah, Founder of Africa University College of Communications, argued that “digital communication is not synonymous with the principles of strategic communication.” Yankah described Ghana’s current information eco-system as one inundated by information disorder as a result of advances in digital communications technologies and the pervasive use of such technologies.

He said that since information “is transferred with speed and cannot be watched and evaluated in real-time,” it was nearly impossible to have control over how it was used.

Professor Yankah, who is also the CEO of the Pan-African Museum proposed six key factors to take into account when determining what strategic communication actually entailed: the messenger’s credibility and qualifications, the message, the recipient of the message, the channels of communication, the timing of the message, and the anticipated impact and evaluative measures of the message shared.

During a panel discussion that followed the keynote presentation, the CEO of the National Petroleum Authority, Dr. Mustapha Hamid observed how partisan political communication was promoted on the basis of digital technology and stated that the lack of a coherent national voice was a difficulty for nation-building.

On her part, the CEO of Strategic Communication Africa, Madam Esther Cobbah, likened strategic communication to Nkrumah’s struggle for independence by drawing on historical precedents. To her, understanding how Nkrumah strategically overcame obstacles to get Ghanaians to a point where the country could achieve independence is noteworthy. According to Madam Cobbah, strategic communication comprised nothing more than purposefully collaborating with others to accomplish a goal for the people that resonated with them.

“You must engage people’s minds in order to understand them and communicate effectively with them. Understanding their needs is important in order to tailor your message and bring about the desired change”, she added.

Madam Cobbah encouraged Ghanaians to consider how they could use digital media in a way that worked for the country.  “It will be difficult to hold anyone accountable unless we examine how social media may be used to improve the nation.”

Another member of the discussion panel, Madam Kathleen Addy, explored the issue from a political perspective and highlighted how political parties have used digital technologies in their communication to only nurture partisan goals.

Madam Addy who is also the chair of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), posed a few concerns while lamenting the present situation, “Who are the individuals communicating for political parties? Can we trust the messengers? Are the people happy with them and understand what has been shared?

“The government’s communication department should have programs in place where they can meet connectors, present all ideas to them and seek their views, then modify the issues depending on the feedback given before exposing the ideas to the general public,” she suggested.

“It’s important for us at the NCCE to connect with people through the media they use frequently. An effort to this is the collaboration with Miss Ghana pageants where contestants speak on topics that engage the public positively and promote national development” Madam Addy said.

The head of the Department of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Dr. Abena Animwaa Yeboah-Banin affirmed the need to recognise that the challenge of politically twisting information persists and that controlling it would be more difficult because of the “infodermic age,” which she defined as “a pandemic on how information is seen, channeled through digitization and propels fake news and misinformation.”

The forum was moderated by Madam Babba Coffie, managing partner at Mahogany Consult, a business management consultancy in Accra, Ghana, who is also an alumna of the Department.

The writer is an MA Student of the Department of Communication Studies, University of Ghana.


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