After battling it out on different channels, Eight gentlemen vying for the highest office in Ghana will today come closer to knowing their fate. One of the two most popular parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is expected to win today’s election. What has featured most prominently in this season’s electoral process though has been the battle for online visibility. Four years ago, there was very little interest in the use of social media for campaigning purposes. This time around, most of the candidates have leveraged the power of digital media and technology to increase their chances. John Dramani Mahama, the incumbent, has a verified account on twitter and engages his followers on regular basis. Unfortunately he happens to be the only candidate with a verified account. Nonetheless the other candidates have widely used social media to answer questions posed by their fans or have used social media to clarify and issues which came up during the course of the campaign. On many other occasions messages have been broadcast on Whatsapp which is a very popular peer-to-peer chatting app used by the youth. The question on everyone’s mind right now is, “will their online presence and interactions translate into votes?”
During the Presidential Debates hosted by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the process was covered live on Youtube and the feed was accessed by thousands of interested players home and abroad. Social media for some citizen has become the hub for gathering information about the elections in Ghana. This has led to many folks on twitter following the main hash tag for Ghana’s elections, #GhanaDecides. It is not surprising to have seen the hash tag trend worldwide on twitter this morning.
One other flagship project which has contributed immensely to the use of Social Media during this election season has been the Ghana Decides project managed by BloggingGhana, Ghana’s biggest association of bloggers. The project has educated the online community by using tools such as Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, Google+, Youtube and many other channels. The team’s main objective is to present a non-partisan and objective information hub for interested individual to access. The Star-Ghana funded project has been commended by Online Media giants such as Mashable, Al-Jazeera and the BBC.