“In order for Ghanaian citizens to be able to exercise their right to influence government processes, more effective communication channels need to be created” — VOTO Mobile
of Ghana’s population has a mobile phone
of Ghana's population lives in rural areas
January 2016 End date
In democratic countries, citizens have a right to participate in government processes by providing input into the use of public resources and feedback on whether services meet their needs.
In Ghana, this participation is undermined by limited data availability and insufficient government capacity to allow for meaningful citizen engagement.
Creating new commmunication channels that harness the widespread use of mobile phones is one way of solving this problem.
For the past three years, VOTO Mobile has been working to create new ways of ensuring that the voices of excluded citizens – especially rural women – are heard in the decision-making processes of Ghana’s district assemblies.
It has developed a web-based platform which can interact with basic mobile phones using an automated voice messaging system – Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – and used to carry out polls. This research aims at showing how IVR polls can be used to overcome communication barriers and help district governments make better, more representative choices.
The research team will run pilot IVR polls in three regions of Ghana, asking respondents which core public services are most important to them. The poll results will be compared with the government’s District League Table accountability tool to discover how well it reflects citizen priorities. Analysis will also focus on which characteristics of IVR polls maximise the participation of rural women.
Learning from these pilot processes will shape good practice for IVR-based citizen feedback processes across the country.
VOTO Mobile is a Ghana-based tech start-up and social enterprise. Its mission is to increase participation and accountability in the services delivered to citizens, and to empower communities to collect and share information to drive positive social change.
VOTO Mobile enables businesses, governments, and NGOs to share information and gather feedback through interactive SMS or voice calls in local languages – instantly reaching across distance, language, and literacy barriers.
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