Internet activism in Ghana
If you ask me what comes to mind when I think about the Internet, the first thing I would conceive is, “information.” It is a world of information- billions and billions of information. There is really no limit to the information available on the Internet. Today, it is very easy to find answers to questions on subjects you have little knowledge of by simply running a search on the Internet. To me, another word closely tied to information is “power.” Knowledge, they say is power. Indeed, knowledge finds its roots in information. One writer, Bruce Coville, in speaking about information says, “Withholding information is the essence of tyranny. Control of the flow of information is the tool of dictatorship.” One may argue about the validity of this statement, however, I point it out here because it depicts that there is a correlation between information and power. This being said, I can dare to say that the Internet is power. Indeed, many people have identified and used this power nature of the Internet to their advantage. Armies around the world rely heavily on the Internet for information and security purposes. Huge amounts of money are transferred daily around the globe via Internet connections without actual movement of physical cash. The Internet plays a vital role in the smooth running of the world’s stock markets. Some of the biggest companies in the world have their foundations laid on the Internet. A less desirable example of the power of the Internet is that some of the biggest bank robberies in history have been cyber robberies. In February 2013, seven hackers were arrested for robbing a New York bank of forty-five million dollars. An even bigger heist, which would have been the biggest in history if the hackers had succeeded, is the Sumitomo Mitsui Bank Heist in 2007. BBC reported that these men carried out the heist via the Internet and Internet-powered software. If they had succeeded in transferring the stolen money into offshore accounts, they would have walked away with three hundred million U.S. Dollars. All the examples above are just a minute fragment of stories that reveal the power of the Internet. This study is going to look into another way Internet power is used that is relatively less dramatic compared to cyber robberies. Notwithstanding, it has proven to be a powerful tool in addressing some of the problems we face in our world today. Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in how much the Internet is being used as a tool to foster change in the lives of people around the world. We can see evidences of this feature of the Internet in major revolutionary movements like the Arab Spring. Since 2011, there have been several research studies into the role of the Internet and social media in the Arab Spring. Many academics, journalists and politicians around the world have attributed the effectiveness of the Arab Spring to the Internet and social media. The major role the Internet played in revolutions around the world led to the birth of the saying, “Democracy is just a tweet away.” Also, another famous saying created by Egyptian Google executive Wael Ghonim asserts, “If you want to liberate a society, just give them the Internet”(Storck 2012). The goal of this paper is to research into how the Internet has been used and can be used for activism, especially in Ghana.
Thesis submitted to the Department of Computer Science, Ashesi University College, in partial fulfillment of Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems, April 2014
Ghana, digital activism, mobile app