Open Government Partnership in Africa: After Brasilia, What is Next?
Since the official launch of the Open Government Partnership (OGP)—a multilateral, multi-stakeholder global initiative to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and strengthen governance—in September 2011 in New York more than 50 governments have joined. The first annual OGP summit was held in Brasilia from April 17-18, 2012, to showcase progress made in the context of the Partnership. During the Summit several countries presented their national action plans in order to formally join OGP.
The World Bank, given its role as knowledge broker and convener is supporting the OGP in these early stages by facilitating knowledge exchanges to build the capacity of OGP member countries to implement their action plans. On July 3, 2012, the World Bank (Africa’s Public Sector and Governance team and the World Bank Institute’s Open Government team) in collaboration with the OGP Steering Committee invited all African member countries of the OGP—Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, South Africa and Tanzania—together with members of the OGP Steering Committee to participate in a second video conference peer exchange.
The five countries provided highlights of their country action plans and common areas. In addition, members of the OGP Steering Committee presented on monitoring of action plans and the importance of knowledge exchanges to advance OGP commitments.
Highlights of Country Action Plans
Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania already presented their national action plans to the OGP. Liberia and Ghana have yet to submit them. Ghana expressed a clear desire to complete, the action plan as soon as possible through a consultative process. An interim task force was formed and its members are conducting a stocktaking of existing open government-type initiatives; they also requested support from the World Bank. In Kenya, budget has been allocated to set up a domain. Liberia passed legislation on Freedom of Information (FOI) and asset declaration while forming the National Integrity Forum (NIF)—comprised of 7 CSOs- to support the fight against corruption. South Africa’s action plan elaboration process consultation in 9 provinces led to a diagnostic and two priorities: improving public services and the fight against corruption. In Tanzania, citizens’ budget is now published via websites and a joint forum (Government and Civil Society) formed for monitoring commitments.
Advancing OGP Action Plan Implementation through Peer Learning and Knowledge Exchange
Ayanda Dlodlo, Deputy Minister, Public Service and Administration from the Government of South Africa provided a summary of progress from the Peer Learning Steering Committee and requested assistance in identifying new members and opportunities to promote peer learning, including with developed countries so that OGP is not seen as club for developing countries. She also encouraged those attending the African Union Summit in Ethiopia to be briefed on the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and, to find synergies between the APRM and the OGP process. It was noted that all the AFR OGP countries to-date are Anglophone and an effort should be made to engage Francophone and Lusophone countries. Gladwell Otienno, member of the OGP Peer Learning Steering Committee subcommittee noted that peer learning provides an opportunity to identify common challenges and areas to request support for as well as receive additional insights on how to overcome challenges. Abhinav Bahl from Global Integrity presented a summary of the networking mechanism of the OGP which has been set up with a view to matching technical assistance to country's demand. It has a roster of experts from CSOs, government and private sector; hosted a series of webinars, in coordination with WBI and plan to do more face-to-face networking next year, as well as programs tailored to specific country level needs, based on the action plans.
Monitoring of OGP Commitments
In his presentation on Monitoring OGP commitments, Nathaniel Heller, Executive Director of Global integrity presented the findings of their recent assessment of OGP action plans provided some examples of easy to monitor commitments and emphasized the need to improve quantitative and qualitative metrics of assessment. Warren Krafchik, OGP Steering Committee Civil Society Co-Chair and Director of the International Budget Partnership mentioned that 70% of the Action plans meet 4 out of 5 criteria under the SMART framework (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-bound) they used. Moreover he highlighted some challenges going forward: some countries have not submitted their action plans, it is key that they do so in order to be assessed against progress made regarding the commitments in April, 2013; there needs to be benchmarking through better metrics and time-bound commitments; the role of CSOs in OGP process still needs further clarification; the process of the Independent Review Mechanism also requires further elaboration; and ensuring that the networking mechanism of the OGP successfully connects countries at the right time with the right resources and sufficient resources to document and share experiences.
As part of the World Bank’s work around OGP, it continues collaborating with the OGP Steering Committee and Support Unit, and supporting knowledge exchanges by facilitating videoconferences for peer-to-peer learning and experience sharing, webinars on OGP-related areas and South-South exchanges.