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Open Government Partnership takes off in East Africa

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) was formally launched, in New York, on 20th September 2011 by US President Barack Obama. Representatives from over 40 countries attended the OGP launch, including President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, President Zuma of South Africa, and ministers from Kenya. From Africa, only six countries met the minimum criteria to join the partnership, of which five joined and are currently working on preparing their national action plans. Twaweza’s Head, Rakesh Rajani, presented remarks on behalf of civil society organizations in his capacity as a member of the OGP Steering Committee. In his closing speech President Obama emphasized the role of citizen driven accountability and made specific reference to Rajani’s remarks.

The Open Government Partnership is a new multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies in order to strengthen governance.

To join the OGP, participating agree to an ambitious Open Government Declaration. Member countries must deliver a country action plan developed with public consultation; and commit to independent reporting on their progress going forward.

The launch of the OGP was closely followed by media representatives from all over the world. The East African reported on the event and published two articles; Open and shut case: Those govts that involve citizens in policy will prosper and US praises Kenya, Dar for revealing govt data, as well reproducing Rajani’s remarks as an opinion editorial.

President Kikwete of Tanzania referred to the OGP and appreciated Twaweza’s role specifically in his September 2011 monthly speech. Habari Leo, a Kiswahili newspaper in Tanzania, also covered the speech and reference to OGP and Twaweza.

Following these developments, at the request of President Kikwete, on three different occasions Twaweza has briefed senior officials at the State House, the Permanent Secretaries, and the full Tanzania Cabinet. The presentation to Cabinet can be downloaded below. Throughout these meetings President Kikwete powerfully reiterated the need to be open to citizens on issues that affect them, particularly basic services and issues of value for money. He has appointed the Minister for Good Governance, Mathias Chikawe, to lead the process on behalf of the government.

The race is on to now conduct the public consultations and prepare the draft plan due at the Ministerial level meeting in Brazil on December 7. Twaweza has offered to support the government in this process.

Read more: governance Kenya OGP Open Government Partnership Rakesh Rajani Tanzania

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