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Initiative for interactive local governance launched

canadianambassadortoghanaA digital platform aimed at using modern technology to promote grass-roots participation in local governance has been launched in the Ashaiman municipality.

The initiative is an integrated medium that will afford the public the opportunity to use text messaging, interactive voice response and other social media tools to engage duty bearers at the local level on the governance process.

To enhance accountability and transparency in the management of resources at the assembly, the platform will further enable the locals to access information on the assembly’s budget, as well as the development plans so that they will be able to monitor and make inputs.

A ceremony was held at the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly yesterday under the auspices of Penplusbyte, the initiators of the projects, where the platform was officially launched.

Present at the event were the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of the area, Mr Ibrahim Baidoo, the Canadian Ambassador to Ghana, Mrs Heather Anne Cameron, assembly members and a section of the public.

Dubbed “Enhancing Grass-roots Civic Participation in Governance Using New Digital Tools,” the project uses both offline and online platforms to create space for social inclusion in governance.

 

Empowerment

Explaining the details of the project, the Project Director of Penplusbyte, Mr Jerry Sam, said the initiative would make use of mobile technology and other internet-enabled devices to empower citizens to become active participants in the governance process.

“The project will create awareness among citizens on budget allocations to the assembly and other development plans through easy access to information to enable them to hold duty bearers accountable. It will also give updated information on governance processes at the assembly to the media to promote their watchdog role, ” he said.

Mr Sam observed that service delivery in the areas of education, healthcare and sanitation would be central to the operation of the platform.

 

Active participation

Mr Baidoo underscored the need for the public to take advantage of the innovation and to get involved and contribute effectively to enhance the development of the municipality.

He observed that there was no way the municipality could develop if citizens did not get interested in the way their resources were expended, adding that it took effective policing from the public to ensure that the resources of the assembly were put to good use.

 “The town hall meetings, electoral area meetings and other traditional methods of disseminating information have not fully enhanced effective participation by all people. But, this initiative promises to empower the citizens to seek information and also make their voices heard,” he said.

 

Participation key

The Canadian Ambassador, Mrs Heather Anne Cameron, indicated that participation was a key tool for enhancing accountability and responsible governance and that it was important for more efforts to be made to promote inclusive governance at the grass roots.

She said the technology was a tool that could not be sidelined if local assemblies had to improve on their administrative regimes.

Mrs Cameron urged metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to continue to devise innovative ways to bring governance close to the public.

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