RTI bill passage necessary for accountability – iWatch Africa

Promoting Transparency and Accountability

The founders of iWatch Africa Project have highlighted the critical need for the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill to make information more accessible to the public to ensure accountability and transparency.

They said one of the lessons learnt during the first one-month of the iWatch project was the challenge in accessing critical information for their reviews.

“One of the lessons learnt is that, public officials are not very forthcoming when critical information is needed,” said Mr Gideon Sarpong, Co-Founder /Policy and Content Analyst at iWatch Africa.

The Project, which is aimed at putting a spotlight on government’s promises and monitoring their implementation in communities across Ghana and promote citizen participation in governance in order to hold their leaders accountable, is spearheaded by a group of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

Mr. Sarpong, at the review and evaluation session of the Project, lauded its impact in offering citizens the opportunity to objectively assess the performance of the government through its unified gauge accountability reports.

This, he said, would deepen the democratic process in Ghana, adding that the Project would continue to assess government’s commitments in the 2017 Budget Statement.

The Project reviewed commitments in Health, Education, Government Expenditure and Job Creation during the one month period.

“We look forward to expanding our focus areas to include procurement and SOEs in 2018,” Mr Sarpong said.

He raised concerns about the management of the public purse, which he said was not encouraging after review of several reports by the Auditor General.

“The attorney general has a mandate to recover all monies that were illegally expended,” he noted.

Mr. Sarpong said the iWatch Africa Team was engaging the Ministry of Information to find ways of addressing some of the challenges that they faced during the Project, especially with regard to access to information.

Read Also: iWatch Africa meets the Minister of Information towards deepening transparency in governance

He added that they were also liaising with the Ghana Integrity Initiative on the way forward and how to sustain and scale up the Project in the future.

Ms. Sara V. Stealy, the Press Attaché at the United States’ Embassy in Ghana, commended the team for their hard work and said the focus areas tied in with the Embassy’s work in Ghana.

The use of digital media, including social media on the Project was good for shining the light on the issues identified.

She added that the work of the team represented former President Barack Obama’s vision for the YALI Project.

Source: GNA

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Gideon Sarpong

2017 Thomson Reuters Foundation Fellow: Gideon Sarpong (G. K. Sarpong) is a media practitioner with over six years of experience in content development and management, data and investigative journalism, policy analysis, production and e-commerce strategizing. Gideon is currently Director of Policy and News Content at iWatch Africa. He is also the Brands and Communication Manager for Football 360, Kwese SportsXtra, on KFS and Celebrity Fanzone, The Tonight Show, and After Hours. Gideon is an e-commerce consultant for Department of Geography & Regional Planning and Department of Religion & Human Values at the University of Cape Coast. He is a columnist for several local and international news portals. Gideon holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Policy Journalism and is committed to promoting transparency and accountability using investigative & data journalism. Gideon is an author with over eight publications; a fellow of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), Thomson Reuters Foundation (Wealth of Nations Program) and Bloomberg Data for Health Program.

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