Penplusbytes promotes effective governance in Africa by deploying technology that enhances citizen participation. Established in 2001, its overarching philosophy is that creating effective working relationships with governments, parliaments, corporates, donors, international organisations, NGOs, and citizens is the key to being relevant and delivering value.
Based in Ghana, its activities reach as far as Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Benin, Liberia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Niger, Malawi, Namibia, and South Africa.
Penplusbytes is a global leader in developing and deploying new digital tools for use in solving different and challenging social and civic challenges. It three main thematic areas revolve around Extractives (mining, oil, and gas), New Media and Innovations, and Tech and Good Governance.
Extractives – builds the capacity of journalists to play an effective oversight role over natural resources and undertakes research to contribute to good governance of the sector.
New Media and Innovations – serves as a catalyst to convene stakeholders within the new media space to develop innovative tools that support citizens’ ability to influence positive change in national governance.
Tech and Good Governance – seeks to enhance citizen participation in governance through the use of new digital tools, and to create pathways for citizens to hold office bearers to account.
Some of Penplusbytes’ recent publications include the METOGU Anti-corruption Report, a systematic and ongoing appraisal of the manifesto promises regarding corruption of the government of Ghana, and Media Perspectives on Fake News in Ghana, which is based on a survey of 154 newsrooms nationwide.
The “Red Flag Movement” is one of Penplusbytes’ latest projects. With support from Strengthening Action Against Corruption (STAAC), it promotes a new approach in the fight against corruption. Anchored on the humanisation of corruption, this real-time information and knowledge dissemination system tracks and traces alleged corruption acts in the public sphere with direct linkages to law enforcement agencies.
Penplusbytes has already trained over 1 000 journalists from over 200 different media affiliations worldwide since 2001. It has facilitated training and knowledge-sharing sessions on cutting-edge new media technologies for newsrooms, and provides a one-stop online information and knowledge platform about Ghana’s oil and gas sector. It has also deployed new digital tools for citizens to participate in governance process in 14 different African countries, and designed new digital tools for parliaments to engage with citizens and play an effective oversight role over the executive arm of government.
One of the biggest challenges facing Penplusbytes is to sustain civic-tech programmes beyond donor funding commitments.
Penplusbytes is a member of the Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors, Civil Society Platform on SDGs, Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, and the Coalition for the Passage of Access to Information. Some of its funders include OSIWA, UKAID, USAID, Ford Foundation, DW Akademie, National Endowment for Democracy, Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth (GOGIG) and Natural Resource and Governance Institute (NRGI).