South Africa to host Open Government Partnership 2016 regional meeting

Open GovernmentThe government of South Africa has announced it will host the 2016 edition of the Open Government Partnership Africa Regional Meeting.

The meeting to be held in Cape Town from May 5 to 6, would be preceded by a Civil Society Day and OGP Points of Contact Conference on May 4, 2016.

The relevance and importance of this meeting with the theme “Open Government for Sustainable Development in Africa”, can not be overemphasized, taking into consideration the history of governance in Africa.

One of Africa’s great political scientists, Claude Ake described most governments in Africa after independence as being ‘statist’. In one of his essays written in 1985 criticising authoritarian rule and corruption in Africa, he argued that in Africa, power is everything, and those who control the coercive resources use it freely to promote their interests.

Most African citizens have been left out of governance by the few, in spite of the enormous impact of governments on the many.

But open government concepts and doctrines are the vehicles which promote participatory democracy, and have the potential to promote transparency because they give citizens access to information and the right to know what their governments are doing. Open government systems also give citizens the power to scrutinize government actions and decisions, ultimately leading to accountability.

The evidence is overwhelming, to the effect that Africa’s march forward to sustainable development is binding on the active participation of its citizens and not only political office holders, and that is what makes the participation of all governments in Africa in the Open Government Partnership very critical.

Africa’s development is the responsibility of all its citizens and open government systems make it possible for all citizens to participate.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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