Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ghana: Penplusbytes' Digital Platform Yielding Results

By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh

The intervention by the Committee on Government Assurances (CGA) to engage citizens at all levels to participate in the governance process by tracking and monitoring assurances has yielded significant inputs from citizens through the utilization of well-developed digital platforms that allows them to report on the progress of work on various projects promised by government.

As part of the project "Providing Effective Feedback to Parliament through Digital Technologies", with financial and technical support from STAR-Ghana, the International Institute of ICT Journalism- Penplusbytes, the institution responsible for the digital platform, together with the research and support staff of the CGA, embarked on a four-day pre-verification tour of sites of selected assurances in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions to assess, at first hand, the veracity of claims and reports communicated to the committee by citizens.

The trip, which happened from the 2nd to the 5th of September, took members of the team to project sites at the Tafo general Hospital and the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital where construction works on maternity blocks are currently on-going, and then to the newly constructed 5 polyclinics in the Brong Ahafo Region.

The outcome of this trip will form part of a report that will be generated and passed on to the CGA ahead of their own monitoring visit at a later date after which a final report will serve as evidence; based on which appropriate sector ministers will be held to account during the committee's public hearings.

According to Jerry Sam, Projects Director at Penplusbytes, "the visit was necessitated by the need to confirm the authenticity of citizens' feedback on the assurances and after everything we saw, we can only attest to the growing effectiveness of the partnership between citizens and the governance process through this project".

"The digital platform has received thousands of messages from citizens mostly on assurances being presently monitored by the committee and the verification process is to ascertain the progress of work in those regions", he added.

The project, which aims at empowering parliament through the CGA to effectively play its oversight role on the Executive to ensure improved public service delivery, has meant that citizens through the online digital platforms created by the committee are now better informed and updated on pertinent assurance that affect their lives via SMS, web-forms, mobile apps as well as social media.

This has enabled them to actively keep track of key government promises and to send feedback reports to the committee via the same channels.

The Committee is scheduled to commence public hearings this year and would seek to query ministers on the fulfillment of their undertakings they had made to the citizens of Ghana as per the standing orders of the House.

This would engender transparency and accountability and compel ministers to deliver on all promises and on the agenda of government.


International Institute for ICT Journalism

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