Africa Centre for ICT Journalism

The Africa Centre for ICT Journalism (Penplusbytes) on Friday opened a two-day ?hackathon? which will focus on developing technological solutions to stimulate better management of Ghana?s oil and gas resources.

Africa Centre for ICT Journalism Dubbed ?Hack4Oil?, the ?hackathon? programme is bringing together stakeholders in the oil and gas sector, made up of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and public agencies on one hand and software developers and mobile platform developers on the other, who would work to create software and hardware to address issues on oil revenue, health environment, and policy regulation.

A hackathon is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, collaborate intensively on software projects to create usable software that could be accessible to all who need such applications or operating systems and programming for their work.

The event is being organised with the support of STAR-Ghana, and in partnership with the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) and the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NGRI).

Mr Kwame Ahiabenu II, President of Penplusbytes explained to the GNA that ideas and technologies of participants will be elicited as part of a drive to garner innovative means of enhancing citizen engagement, government accountability and resource transparency.

He said Hack4oil would contribute significantly to better management of Ghana?s oil and gas sector revenue and resources, through new digital technologies, which enable better oversight of the industry.

He indicated that the hackathon was, therefore, in direct response to a more general consensus by government, Civil Society, Journalists and citizens to take critical steps at ensuring widened opportunities for public participation in decision making with regards to the Oil and gas exploitation.

?This has become even more crucial with Africa?s not so inspiring history of not making the most gains from extractives as resource ? rich Nations have long been known to suffer what has come to be known as the resource curse, with most experiencing increased poverty and conflict?, he added.

Mr Ahiabenu said for a country like Ghana, which was producing oil in commercial quantities, it was imperative that measures were put in place at every stage of the exploitation process to maximize the benefit thereof; picking lessons from the successes and failures of other states.

Explaining further, he said there would be a list of tasks to be completed for each problem scope presented, looking for instance at the oil industry and its potential for Ghana; which gaps exist, for which technology could fill, among other industry-specific probes.

The top three teams at hack4oil will receive various prizes as well as benefit from a two-months mentoring programme, where they would be receiving the necessary resources to develop a full-scale product that would be deployed at a future date.

The criteria for winning would be based on delivering solutions, which are context-relevant, easily adaptable and responding adequately to problem scope with innovative solutions, and uses technology that leverages pre-existing infrastructure.

Dr Paul Frempong, Advisor to the Petroleum Commission, Ghana, who took the participants through the local content law, said the Petroleum and Local Content Regulation of 2013 had been well designed to critically benefit, especially the Ghanaian people, in order to ensure that citizens were well placed to work in the industry.


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