OGP in the News – Week of June 12, 2017
A series providing a round-up of media attention received by Open Government Partnership throughout the world. Want to receive OGP in the News directly in your email inbox every Monday morning? Subscribe here.
With OGP membership growing every year, OGP occasionally makes news in non-participating countries, as it did this week in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
During an interview appearing in major Kazakhstani news outlet Zakon.kz, Executive Director of the Research and Education Center of Constitutionalism and Local Government Law at Moscow State University, Stanislav Sheverdyaev, encouraged the government of Kazakhstan to join OGP in order to reform its legal and institutional open government framework. Debunking some common misconceptions about ‘open government’ being limited to e-government and access to information, Sheverdyaev referenced the standards of both the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and OGP, which emphasize government accountability, civic participation, and asset disclosure of public officials. While Sheverdyaev acknowledged that three laws passed in 2015—”Access to Information”, “On Public Councils” and “On Combating Corruption”—have the potential for bringing about reform, he also said they need to undergo some legal revisions in order to really embody the ideals of open government.
President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev also expressed interest in joining OGP. Delivering a speech at the the International High-Level Forum, “Taza Koom,” which was published on both the presidential website and Kabar.kg, President Atambayev said, “Speaking about the accountability and transparency of the public sector, I would like to say that the leadership of the country, the Government, is considering the possibility of joining the international initiative ‘Open Government Partnership – OGP.’”
Following the release of the Fourth Geo Progress Report, Germany’s Minister of the Interior Dr. Thomas de Maizière announced the government’s increasing commitment to accurate and accessible “geodata.” Quoted in an article on Bundesministerium des Inneren, Mazière said, “Whether it’s intelligent traffic control or apps, for example, in healthcare, flood protection or the search for a day care center: Without geodata, nothing works, so we want the geodata of the administration to be used for all these purposes.” To achieve this goal, the government plans to take action via Germany’s OGP framework, as well as integrating the centralized Geoportal.de into other government portals.
Still in Germany, AllAfrica.com reported that the G20 group of twenty countries with leading global economies met with African delegates in Berlin to discuss Africa’s fast growing youth population, or what Co-Founder of ONE and the article’s author Jamie Drummond calls the “biggest story in the world right now.” Pointing out that by 2050, the “young population of Africa will be 10 times the size of the EU’s youth population, and equal that of the entire rest of the G20 put together,” Drummond emphasized the need to invest in Africa’s youth – immediately. Along with being educated and employed, Drummond said African youth must also be empowered via accountable, citizen-centric government, and recommended more African partners sign up to OGP.
In Nigeria, The Punch announced that the World Bank has promised to help strengthen Nigeria’s Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP), introduced in 2016 to tackle the financial downturns of 2015-2016. As detailed in a statement issued by the Director of Information of Nigeria’s Ministry of Finance, Salisu Dambatta, part of the World Bank involvement will include “imparting skills that would contribute in the successful implementation of the Open Government Partnership commitments with the view to boosting the fiscal transparency and accountability component of the FSP.”
Also in Africa, Etalab’s Amélie Banzet provided a recap of the first ever Francophone African Conference on Open Data and Open Government (#CAFDO2017) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Attended by representatives of more than 22 French-speaking countries, the conference helped establish a network of Francophone African leaders in the field of open data. A day-long workshop on open government also saw significant turnout, with some 30 government and civil society representatives from OGP countries (France, the Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Burkina Faso), countries eligible to join OGP (Senegal), and countries working towards eligibility to join OGP (Guinea, Morocco, Benin). The workshop sought to identify the challenges of and opportunities for implementing open government reforms in Francophone African countries, encourage new Francophone African countries to join OGP, and support Burkina Faso in drafting its first OGP National Action Plan (NAP).
Further east, Afghanistan is working hard to curb corruption through procurement reform. An article in Eurasia Diary noted that Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani formed the National Procurement Authority (NPA) in 2014 to facilitate and monitor procurement processes in accordance with the country’s procurement law and standards. Since launching, the NPA has reportedly saved Afghanistan $224 million, or the equivalent of 3.5% of the 2017 national budget. In December 2016, Afghanistan made a “giant step towards institutionalizing democracy and good governance” by joining OGP. While acknowledging that the country’s government has a long way to go in terms of e-procurement, justice reform, working with civil society, and “cultivating the culture of accountability,” the author suggests, a “corruption-free Afghanistan is not a ‘mission-impossible.’”
And in Mexico, Jacqueline Villarruel Ortega and Ricardo Reyes Márquez of Article 19 authored an opinion piece for Animal Politico in which they criticized the Mexican government for a “lack of imagination in proactively bringing information to society.” They cited several initiatives implemented as part of Mexico’s OGP commitments, including the country’s Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the Public Works and Infrastructure project, which have, according to the authors, fallen short of the key democratic values of transparency and access to information.
Finally, the OGP Steering Committee co-chairs issued a statement on the recent withdrawal by ten Mexican civil society organizations from the country’s OGP platform. Offering support to Mexican civil society, the Mexican government, and the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI), the co-chairs said, “We are united in our belief that the same ingredients of open government – meaningful open dialogue, transparency and accountability – that have had such tangible results in Mexico and in so many OGP National Action Plans around the world, will be equally helpful in reestablishing trust and cooperation between government and civil society in Mexico.”
Last but not least, do you want to be the next big #opengov film director? Now’s your chance! OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) is commissioning a short film to illustrate its function and value. All submission details here.
Of course, we can’t catch everything in our news round-ups, so if you see we’ve missed something or think a particular story ought to be featured, please send it to email@example.com.