The Graphic Communications Group Ltd (GCGL) and a technology solutions firm, TechGulf, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to digitalise all the group’s body of priceless work, spanning over seven decades.
Since 1950, the GCGL has chronicled the history of the country from pre-independence, independence to the present.
The scope of the two-year project includes moving all the company’s newspaper publications from the years 1950 to 2000.
As part of the project, all in-house administrative forms and memos will also be digitalised to enhance the company’s operations.
The project, being co-funded by both partners, is expected to preserve the rich archival material of the company as well as make it easily accessible to stakeholders.
It will also help the company to save cost by reducing on-premises storage needs, while reducing the time spent in performing routine administrative tasks.
A five-member steering and a seven-man project technical committees have been constituted to facilitate the delivery of the project.
TechGulf Ghana is an offshore subsidiary of TechGulf LLC, a technology company based in San Francisco in the United States, with a mandate to provide stable and secure data storage hardware across Africa.
At a meeting to unveil the project at the GCGL head office in Accra yesterday, the Managing Director of the media group, Ato Afful, said the company had been a part of the bedrock of the nation.
“Ghana only turned 65 a couple of days ago. Graphic was here before Ghana was founded and in those years and decades preceding the nation, the company documented the contemporary history of the country accurately and consistently.
“This development has brought us a huge trove of an archive, dating back to 1952, in its print form, reflecting when the Daily Graphic commenced,” Mr Afful said.
He said the group had since created five additional print titles as part of its portfolio which are The Mirror, the Graphic Business, the Graphic Sports, the Graphic Showbiz and the Junior Graphic.
In addition to that, the managing director said GCGL had developed two digital interfaces in the form of a web, graphiconline.com.gh, and a digitalised version of the brands accessible through the Graphic NewsPlus application (App) in response to current and emerging trends.
Truth and accuracy
Mr Afful said at the core of the company’s operation was the fundamental principles of truth and accuracy every day, making its brands a credible source of information for research and reference for all kinds of writers who required them from a living history.
“We have this at our disposal. Over the years, researchers, among others, have come to us to go through that rich wealth of archive and you can imagine the volume of a 72-year-old archive and the real estate space it requires to store.
“And this is not our core business. We have endeavoured to ensure that this national heritage is well protected. However, moving with the times and ensuring that we are able to reach as many people with this level of information we are partnering TechGulf to do this,” he said.
He said TechGulf had been very helpful and gracious to the GCGL for coming along with a proposition that would enable the company to transform its physical archive in the form of print titles and photo imagery into the relevant digital forms, so that the modern user who was sitting anywhere in his home, on the road, and around the world; in towns, villages and cities could, at the click of a button on the phone or any other mobile device access this legacy.
He said the company was confident that it had found a worthy partner.
“Therefore, today, I am very confident and also in a privileged position to assure Editors of this business and their predecessors, all the writers that have contributed to the various brands that all the rich body of work that they put together will be properly digitalised for storage so that posterity would be able to bear witness and testimony to those work done,” Mr Afful stated.
Appeal for more partnerships
Mr Afful said the project was, therefore, national for which he solicited the support of other partners as the project was huge and of national significance.
“We would, therefore, be very grateful if partners who also have their stories and legacies captured across our publications or have an interest in the project would come along and support this initiative.
“Partners can be locally or foreign based; individuals or institutions. All partners are welcome to support a worthy cause,” Mr Afful said.
He expressed gratitude to TechGulf, the American Chamber of Commerce, media partners and all stakeholders for coming on board.
The Chief Executive Officer of TechGulf, Franklin Asare, expressed the company’s commitment to the project.
“I think we are standing in the midst of history itself. GCGL is a great pedigree, a very rich culture, a Ghanaian household name with a wonderful catalogue of print titles and imagery that we need to digitalise to secure and preserve,” he said.
Mr Asare said that was in line with the overall national digitalisation agenda which included being able to digitise and move items from analogue to digital formats.
“The GCGL definitely has a lot of those items and by what you are seeing today, history is being made. We are privileged at the same time humbled to be a partner in this venture and we do not take the opportunity lightly at all,” he said.
The CEO said TechGulf, a subsidiary of an American company, was well positioned to be able to provide the support for the great venture.
Mr Asare said the company also had other projects in Ghana to help move what the nation lived for.
“This particular project is special to TechGulf and certainly special to me, because I feel that once we are able to do this and do it successfully, we will break the ice and the glass ceiling for all the others who have to come on board to help enhance Ghana as a good and great nation to do so,” Mr Asare stated.
He explained that the 1950 to 2000 cut-off point would be the pilot project and expressed the belief that the initiative would transform the GCGL.
American Chamber of Commerce
TechGulf is a member of the American Chamber of Commerce-Ghana (AmCham Ghana).
The Membership, External Relations and Project Manager of AmCham Ghana, Jane Okyere-Aduachie, said the entity was a voluntary association of professionals and business people who worked together to thrive to ensure that businesses between Ghana and American communities grew.
She said the chamber was very delighted to be part of the priceless project which was long overdue.
“We are so delighted to partner with this course, this is a very interesting one, one that would bring fulfilment and excitement to all stakeholders and the nation as a whole,” Ms Okyere-Aduachie said.
The GCGL Local Union Chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Workers (ICU), and archivist, William Ashaley, expressed optimism that the project would become another stream of income for the media company.
In an interview, the Project Manager, Paa Kwesi Barnes, expressed commitment and delight for being part of the groundbreaking project.
He said the digitalisation project by the GCGL would give its customers and staff the ability to act, respond, and complete tasks more efficiently and accurately.
“This can include quicker turnaround times, the ability to complete mission-critical projects, and better profit margins. In line with the government’s drive to digitalise and maximise technology, this project will help governments and memory institutions to research and analyse strategies and policies in relation to digital preservation,” Mr Barnes said.