An online platform offers Ghanaians the opportunity for greater access to government data.
Openness and transparency are key ingredients in building an accountable and effective democratic government. An “open” government is transparent, accessible to anyone, anytime, anywhere; and is responsive to new ideas and demands. The key to this is providing access to accurate data to all citizens. However, in many countries, a low rate of citizen participation and involvement has led to poor accountability from government officials. In Ghana, a new project, TransGov, is developing innovative tools to foster participation in local governance of marginalised groups, and improve government accountability to those who need it most.
TransGov’s research found that many Ghanaians were not aware of the status of local development projects, and this has led to a general public apathy, where people felt they had no influence on getting the government to work for them. TransGov created a platform to enhance information disclosure, dissemination and to create ways for citizens to engage with the local leaders in their communities. The TransGov platform allows all citizens to track the progress of government projects in their area and to publish information about those projects. TransGov has four integrated platforms, including a website, mobile app, voice response technology (IVR) and SMS – to allow the participation of people from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds.
The organization has recently partnered with the government-sponsored Ghana Open Data Initiative, to share resources, tools, and research and hold workshops and seminars. This is aimed to strengthen various government agencies in collecting and managing data for public use. The hope is that making this information more accessible will help create more business opportunities and drive innovation, as well as increasing democratic participation. We have seen this in educational radio broadcasts in Cairo subways and an app that allows citizen feedback on city development. In what other ways might technology help make governments more accessible to every citizen?