The forum held by Penplusbytes, forms part of its implementation of a two-year "Tech Driven Social Accountability for Results" project being funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
Penplusbytes is a leading organization in Africa working in the areas of governance and accountability, new media and innovations as well as oil, gas and mining with the vision of being a leading institution that promotes effective governance using technology in Africa.
The Open Society Initiative for West Africa on the other hand, is active in 10 countries in West Africa Region made up of Ghana, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone and focuses on law, justice and human rights, and economic and political governance.
The initiative pursues the development of open societies by supporting and building partnerships with local and regional groups that promote inclusive democratic governance, transparency and accountability, and active citizenship.
The Tech Driven Social Accountability for Result Project, therefore, seeks to equip ordinary citizens with usable information via online platforms mashed-up with social media and mobile based platforms to promote their participation in demanding accountability and responsiveness from decision makers.
The forum, attended by heads of civil society organizations, state actors on the social accountability front as well as donor organizations, was also aimed at creating synergy and avenue for information sharing and building of a concerted advocacy drive to ensure that resources allocated for development are used to alleviate poverty and improve the standard of living.
Mr Kwami Ahiabenu, the Executive Director of Penplusbytes, said the forum was also organised to help build an informed citizenry who are equipped with the appropriate digital tools to demand better service delivery within the framework of political and social accountability. “The Stakeholder Clearing Platform on Social Accountability is to discuss the existing social accountability approaches and their associated advantages and challenges as well as the role of ICT tools in facilitating social accountability”, he said.
Mr Cosmos Kwame Akorli, the Programme Manager for Governance and Technology at Penplusbytes, said social accountability which involves the use of the actions that citizens, media and civil society organizations could use to hold public officials to account was key to development.
Therefore, under the Penplusbytes OSIWA funded “Tech Driven Social Accountability for Results project”, social accountability will receive a major boost with the adoption of digital tools to promote interaction on development issues among citizens, public officials and service providers for effective public service delivery, he said.
Mr Jerry Sam, Project Director of Penplusbytes, said the overall aim of the OSIWA project was to help create a culture where citizens are equipped with digital tools to actively engage in policy implementation and demand accountability.
He said such digital tools would provide opportunities for answering key questions through formal and informal mechanisms for gathering citizen’s feedback, social mobilisation and other complementary strategies, such as communications and media work, research and advocacy for reforms while increasing social accountability through civic engagement.
This, he explained, would help to complement and reinforce conventional mechanisms of accountability such as political checks and balances, administrative rules and legal procedures.
“The outcomes are that we have an informed citizenry who are able to demand for better service delivery within the framework of political and social accountability as citizens are enabled to engage public officials on accountability issues in real time” Mr Sam said.
At the end of the forum, participants agreed on the creation of a community of practice around social accountability; mapping of social accountability policies in Ghana; identification of a key priority areas for intervention and the documentation of lessons on social accountability in the country, among others.