One of the most cherished surviving monuments of Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, is the Ghana News Agency (GNA), which established was on March 5, 1957, the eve of independence.
It was the first news agency to be established in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the third in the whole of the African continent. It thus celebrates its 63rd anniversary simultaneously with the nation’s independence that falls on March 6, 2020.
The agency’s vision as set out by Dr Nkrumah was to “strive to be a first class centre of excellence in newsgathering and reporting, using the state-of the art technology and competent personnel to become the preferred source of news on Ghana, Africa and the world”.
Allied with this is its mission of contributing “to the political and socio-economic development, national cohesion and the security of Ghana through gathering, processing and dissemination of high quality news and information of interest, relevance and value from throughout Ghana, Africa and the world”.
True to its mandate, GNA has consistently discharged its role of mobilising Ghanaians for nation building, economic and social development, national unity and integration, as well as image projecting the national agenda.
Over the years, the agency progressed from its modest staff of three reporters and supporting staff to more than 200 and blossomed to easily become arguably one of the biggest news gathering organisation in Ghana.
Its main subscribers are the well established media organisations such as the GBC, Daily Graphic, Ghanaian Times, The Chronicle, Non-Governmental Organizations, television and FM radio stations, many websites, and individuals.
GNA has over the years come up against numerous challenges, such as very poor remuneration, inadequate personnel and coping with dwindling subventions that has hampered investment in modern information technology to move ahead of the ever changing media landscape.
With assistance from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Federal Republic of Germany and the Government of Ghana, the Agency’s operations were computerised in September 1991.
The Editorial and Documentation departments were computerised through UNESCO’s Cotonou-based West African News Agencies Development Project (WANAD) which also helped in the training of the Agency’s journalists and technicians.
This project served as a great boost to GNA’s operations, enabling it to expand and speed up its newsgathering and transmission processes. Indeed, GNA was the first news media in Ghana to computerise its operations.
However, impediments cropped up with time due to under-funding or lack of it, resulting in severe administrative and operational challenges.
The drive for commercializing part of its operations was also not backed with the requisite capitalization.
These, however, never dampened the spirit of many of the Agency’s staff. It rather strengthened their resolve to keep the Agency on its feet.
Its resilient corps of management and staff worked harder than before to keep to its professional demands of skilled, truthful, unbiased and accurate reporting.
This has been in keeping with the charge by the Agency’s founding father, Dr Nkrumah, when he stated: “I foresee the day when in the press of the world, any news item warranted by the initials GNA will find an unchallenged place in any newspaper or standing wherever it may be.”
The Agency, in keeping with the Public Sector Reform Programme, established a Business Development Department in 2001 to introduce a business culture into its operations, while exploring new ways of generating revenue. Through this programme, the agency received a big boost from government with the allocation of 10 pickup vehicles and a 4×4 salon vehicle to revamp its operations.
These were presented to the GNA Management and staff during their Golden Jubilee Anniversary on March 5, 2007.
The allocation, indeed, helped the Agency a great deal to expand its operations, particularly, newsgathering and dissemination, as reporters covered greater grounds, reporting from all corners of the country. Unfortunately, since 2007, the Agency has not received any single vehicle, while it struggles to improvise a news management system to process information and reach its subscribers.
GNA’s role in nation building, national unity, economic and social development as well as projecting the Ghanaian and African personalities cannot be compromised in any way.
This is asserted by Mr. Kwao Lotsu, Mr Sam Quaicoe, and Mr. Edward Ameyibor in their publication: Manual of NEWS AGENCY JOURNALISM- The GNA experience when they wrote: The impartial presentation of news is necessary to enhance the credibility of any news agency.
It must be emphasised that the GNA can play its proper role only if people believe the stories it puts out. Once this image is compromised, the Agency will cease to be a credible medium for propagating national integration or economic development or any of the other national goals.
To build up this credibility, the Agency requires well informed and well trained journalists equipped with all the necessary tools…”
As recounted by the authors of this publication, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the role of GNA and its justification for existence.
“For instance, immediately after the coup that overthrew Dr Nkrumah, the GNA was closed down for three days. When news dried up in the rest of the media, the authorities made enquiries. After learning that much of the information came from GNA, they quickly recalled the staff to report for duty”.
No other media house does the kind of comprehensive coverage the GNA does in Ghana. GNA is not interested in propaganda news or fake reportage but in authentic verifiable and accurate news reportage. Those who doubt the existence of GNA must therefore rethink their views.
Whatever the challenges, GNA has and will survive its dream and mandate.
As GNA celebrates its 63rd anniversary, it is only proper to pay homage to its crops of fine ladies and gentlemen who held the mantle through wind and storm to keep it on its feet.
These include the first General Manager, Mr. Godwin T. Anim; K.B. Brown; Van Tay; Kwao Lotsu; Sam B. Quaicoe; T.B. Oti; Isaac Fritz Andoh; Edward Ameyibor; Mr. G.K. Dadzie, Joseph Ebow Amartey, as well as Madam Sappor, and Kofi Baffoe, who kept the tradition going with time.
We also acknowledge the fine reporting and editing traditions of the Sub-Desk of Mr. C.K. Deke, Iron Man C.V. Lamptey, Boakye Dankwa Boadi, and Mr. Ben Amallatey, among others, and news editors S.K. Adibi, Mawusi Afele, Yaa Oforiwah Asare Peasah and the newsroom staff for their dedicated services to ensure an unadulterated reportage and professional editing.
It is impossible to name all dedicated staff for their resilience in the face of enormous challenges the Agency has faced over the past decades.
To both past and present management and staff, I say Ayekoo! Keep the spirit!