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Why Should Ghana’s Parliament Members Get Free Laptops?

By Wayan Vota on December 6, 2010

Recently in Ghana, the Minister of Communication, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, presented 230 laptops valued at $350,000.00 to the 230 members of parliament (MP), committees of the House and some parliamentary staff.

According to Joy Online, Mr. Iddrisu said the laptops are part of the Ministry’s eGhana project and meant to facilitate the research activities of the MPs, improve the efficiency of the legislature and enrich their input in debate.

Yet this laptop distribution has sparked its own debate. Many Ghanaians are mad that the MP’s are getting free access to ICT while poor districts still do not have access to clean water or good schools.

Access to ICT is Critical for Government

Before people get too angry, they should realize that ICT is not longer a luxury – it’s a necessity. In fact, I would be very surprised if MP’s didn’t have computers already, since electronic communication is key to obtaining public office anywhere, especially in a wired country like Ghana.

And still they should get government issued ones, as Camille explains:

As a matter of efficiency, transparency, and national security all members of government should be doing all their communications on government owned and monitored devices via SECURE government servers. I’d like to think that these laptops are a step towards that.

I don’t think it should be seen as “either/or”, every infrastructural improvement matters. People can celebrate the laptops and STILL insist upon getting boreholes. In fact having good online government portals to monitor public works AND communicate with your local MP, will make the job of lobbying ever easier.

I wonder what Ghanaians would think about Kenya’s new Wezesha program that will subsidize laptops for 15,667 university students. Is it better to invest in university students or career politicians? Or would the anger be less if the politicians only received a subsidy, like the Kenyan students, rather than outright gifts from the Minister of Communications?

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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2 Comments to “Why Should Ghana’s Parliament Members Get Free Laptops?”

  1. ampiah benjamin says:

    please i am a student in a senior high school in Ghana,15 years of age and i am male. I will be glad if you send a free laptops to further my education as a student. please help me with one because if you dont no one will all because i have no parent.SO PLEASE HELP ME WITH ONE LAPTOP.

  2. Jerry Humphrey says:

    I’m an shs student, 3rd year. I am pleading to the general public to help me acquire a laptop to further my education. Thank you