Following last year’s Open Government Partnership (OGP) Initiative held in Mexico, South Africa was at the forefront chairing the continent’s Regional meeting in Cape Town earlier in May this year. The meeting saw the convergence of more than 500 individuals from Africa who are involved in the government or civil society to debate how open government, and a more transparent and accountable style of governance, can support sustainable development in Africa.
In his opening speech, South African Minister for Public Service and Administration N. A. Ramatlhodi revealed that his country had made significant strides in creating platforms for engagement with partners from government and civil society to discover, share and promote sustainable alternatives in improving the lives of the people of South Africa.
In line with the OGP principle of enhancing the use of innovation and technology to improve public participation, the country has developed a government information portal that seeks to centralize information for easy access to citizens making them better informed about the service available to them. Through partnerships with various software companies, the Government set up the OGP ‘’Hack-for-Water’’ project which aims to encourage more responsible use of water in industry, agriculture and within communities as well as spur innovative ideas to combat water management problems.
Here at home a multi-agency committee submitted our country’s second National Action Plan (NAP) under the Open Government Partnership on June 30, 2016. The plan encompasses eight core commitments namely:
- Legislative Openness
- Climate Resilience
- Extractive Sector Transparency
- Beneficial Ownership
- Access to Information and Records Management
- Budget Transparency
- Open Contracting
The National Action Plan has adopted dual approach towards their attainment of these commitments. The first is centered upon providing a policy based frame work which will the support new and ongoing innovations geared towards the attainment of the Country’s Developmental goals. The Climate Change Act, 2016 is one such policy that is set to benefit from the accelerated implementation of strategies set to address the adverse effects of climate change.
The plan also sets to build new partnerships between the government and corporations in the extractives industry. Unquantifiable amounts of revenue continue to be lost through the failure to reveal prospects and revenue information by players in the sector.
In combating corruption, the plan recognizes partnerships especially ones with ties to corporations in the diaspora as one area of concern. It stands steadfast in the development of a register of public contracts which will include the disclosure of the beneficiaries of companies, who are in Kenya and overseas. In contracting, the plan adopts open standards which ensure that they can be reviewed freely by anyone.
It is important to note that admission into the OGP was no easy fete. Inclusion required the submission of an action plan developed with public consultation followed by an obligation to independently report on their progress.