“We all use phones; let’s use this technology for accountability”- Ashaiman MCE
The Municipal Chief Executive of Ashaiman, Ibrahim Baidoo has reiterated calls to integrate the opportunities provided by technology in recent times in the local governance processes in Ghana.
With virtually every Ghanaian owning a mobile phone or some internet enabled device, Mr. Baidoo said local government authorities need to shun away from being unresponsive to citizens needs as well as create avenues for suggestions from citizens.
He was quick to add that assemblies do not usually want to make their development plans public especially on the internet. However, he advised that contrarily these technologies should serve as an easy and affordable means of reaching the people and thereby encourage transparency and accountability at the grassroots level of governance.
Speaking at the launch of Penplusbytes’ new project “Enhancing grassroots civic participation in governance using digital tools”, the MCE encouraged community members to make use of all the digital platforms under the project especially the SMS shortcode 7000 for MTN users, 1902 for all other networks and the WhatsApp contact.
The project, funded by the Canadian Fund for local Initiative, seeks to empower citizens through digital tools to effectively participate in the local government decision making processes and promote better public service delivery especially in health, education and sanitation.
The Canadian High commissioner to Ghana, Her Excellency Heather Anne Cameron spoke on her government’s commitment to promote accountability and transparency in governance.
The launch event attracted an impressive number of citizens particularly belonging to community groups.
They were fascinated by how the digital tools was easy to use by all persons regardless of their literacy level and they questioned how to make better use of the digital platforms in reaching the assembly with their pressing issues and concerns.
An online platform, www.opengov.org/gh/ashaiman was also outdoored and participants were taken through how to use the platform.
Programmes director at Penplusbytes, Jerry Sam said, the project will use existing tools citizens are comfortable with and was hopeful this would promote higher patronage.
“Ultimately, we want citizens to engage with their assembly in the comfort of their homes or work places without having to physically be at the Assembly to pass on information or request for one,” he added.
At the end of this project, it is expected that civic engagement in local governance processes would have improved, duty bearers and public officials would be more responsive to citizens’ needs and the media would be playing an effective oversight role in holding duty bearers account in public service delivery.