Saturday, 8 June 2013

OGP: Africa's First Regional Meeting kicks-off in Mombasa

The Open Government Partnership Africa Regional Meeting is currently underway at the Serena Beach Hotel, Mombasa, with representatives from 16 countries in attendance. This is the first OGP Africa Regional Meeting that has attracted a wide variety of Participants and Speakers who include OGP participating governments,Civil society activists, Academia, Multilateral institutions and other interested actors and the Media.
The Meeting was opened by Kenya’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications, Dr. Bitange Ndemo who welcomed participants to the first Africa Regional Meeting. Joseph Powell from the OGP Support Unit noted the growth of OGP participating governments from 8 member countries to 59 member countries. Powell also emphasized on OGP being a genuinely inclusive process for the government and civil society.  
Gladwell Otieno, Executive Director, Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG)  highlighted the importance of access to free information and concrete commitments by governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.  
South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration Ayando Dlodlo challenged Civil Society on transparency and accountability and called on Civil Societies to work hand in hand with their respective government for the betterment of citizens. Ayando highlighted on the use of ICT by governments to offer opportunities for information sharing and public participation and innovation, and invest in the feedback from the Citizens.  
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Information Communication and Technology Dr Fred Matiangi welcomed the participants with a welcome message from President Uhuru Kenyatta, and called on constructive dialogue and engagement by all the Key Players. He added that Africa is young, connected and on the rise and looking forward to “governing in the sun” and that every county in Kenya will establish centres at which citizens can gain access to public information. He called for constructive engagement with the Civil Societies and Kenyans for the “Good of Africa” to improve the living conditions of Africa’s nations.  
The event is hosted by the Ministry of Information and Communications and organized by the Kenya ICT Board with the support of government agencies and civil society organizations. The two day meeting that entails breakout sessions will address three agendas which are as follows:  
1. Outline an Africa agenda for open governance
2. Promote OGP in Africa
3. Share and learn from experiences in open governance
According to AFIC Coordinator, Gilbert Sendugwa, discussions at the OGP Africa meeting are generating important commitments, opportunities for networking and experience-sharing. A CSO meeting ahead of the conference also outlined expectations of the OGP: advancing access to information, open contracting, budget transparency and proactive disclosures.  
The Open Government Partnership is a new multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a steering committee of governments and civil society organizations.
Source: http://www.ogpafrica.org/opengovafrica/  (with additions from AFIC)

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