Engaging citizens in local governance improves transparency and accountability and enhances the ability of district assemblies to develop initiatives that directly solves the needs of citizens, creates more inclusive and cohesive communities. Based on this assertion, Penplusbytes, with support from Deutsche Welle (DW) Akademie is implementing the “OpenGov Platform – Access to Information” project.
The project which is being piloted in four (4) districts in Ghana is aimed at enhancing communication and information sharing between citizens and the local government particularly on health and education using a collaborative, inclusive and integrated approach.
The four pilot districts under the project are Twifo Atti-Morkwa District Assembly in the Central Region, Tema Metropolitan Assembly in the Greater Accra Region, Ellembelle District Assembly in the Western Region and Wa Municipal Assembly in the Upper West Region.
As a build-up on the existing Penplusbytes www.opengov.org.gh online assets, the project seeks to ultimately bring all district assemblies in Ghana online and provide a unitary platform where citizens have access to information particularly on district assembly development plans and budgets for selected sectors.
Penplusbytes intends to take advantage of the proliferation of affordable ICT tools in Ghana and exploring the myriad of new opportunities these offer to empower citizens in the quest for more transparency and accountability from government.
The Director of Programmes at Penplusbytes, Jerry Sam said, “The project is anchored around supporting efforts by government and its development partners to achieve SDG 16.10 target on access to information and we hope by creating the platforms using new digital tools the project will help citizens contribute their quota towards an inclusive development of the nation.”
Project inception visits to the above mentioned districts which have commenced in earnest have shown the crave for information from their district assemblies on the part of citizens. The lack of a cost effective and reliable means of communication on the part of the district assemblies provides an opportunity for this project to solve a real need by increasing awareness and empowering citizens to have a voice through increased access to technology and face-to-face engagements.
By the end of the project, we envisage an improved means of access to information by citizens and enabling them become active agents in the formulation and implementation of social policies and not mere users and choosers of policies, which do not always meet their needs.
Penplusbytes is a not-for-profit organization driving change through innovations in three key areas: using new digital technologies to enable good governance and accountability, new media and innovations, and driving oversight for effective utilisation of mining, oil and gas revenue and resources.
DW Akademie is Germany’s leading organization for international media development. DW supports the development of free and transparent media, quality journalism, and also offer programs to boost media skills.