Team members of International Institute of ICT journalism, Penplusbytes joined a group of technical, program and financial management staff from the USAID missions for a briefing on “the role of journalists in enhancing transparency and accountability in governance and the private sector” during a five-day training program in Accra.
This meeting was meant to afford USAID staff the opportunity to learn more about Penplusbytes’ effort in promoting transparency and accountability in governance through the use of ICTs and citizen engagement. The team explained how Penplusbytes through its African Elections Project covers elections in Africa by training journalists and citizen journalists to effectively use ICTs, SMS and mobile apps to cover and report on the electoral process.
Headed by a director from Penplusbytes Kofi Mangesi, the team also shared its experience on training journalists to play a watchdog role on the extractives (oil, gas and mining) revenues and resources in Ghana, Uganda and now Tanzania, adding that the program enhances the capacity of young journalists to produce in-depth investigative stories in the media, thereby increasing the quality and quantity of stories in the sector and thereby ensuring good governance in the extractives.
Jerry Sam from Penplusbytes also explained how the organisation uses ICT tools, mobile applications, SMS and community radio outreach programmes to inform and educate citizens at the grassroots about elected government’s manifestoes and also district assembly development plans so that they are able to track budgets and promises to effectively hold officials to account and ensure transparency in government expenditure at the district level.
The 5-day training which was on strengthening public financial management and public accountability and brought together USAID officials from USAID/Ghana and USAID/West Africa missions, as well as from other countries in Africa and Central Asia and it took place at the Fiesta Royale Hotel in Accra