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Faces of Open Government: Isaac Aidoo

Rostros del gobierno abierto: Isaac Aidoo, Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana.

Isaac Aidoo|

The Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA) joined OGP in 2016 to strengthen citizen participation, fiscal transparency, and accountability. As the city grows, the Assembly seeks lasting and innovative open government solutions to improve municipal services and infrastructure to aid development. Isaac Aidoo is the OGP Government Point of Contact for Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana.


How has the inclusion of citizens and civil society organizations impacted the co-creation process and how has that impact translated into reforms?

During the launch of the OGP co-creation process, the Mayor of Sekondi-Takoradi Anthony K.K Sam said the initiative “opens new and improved communication channels between government and citizens, enables local government to have the needed information and makes government more accountable to the needs of their citizens.”  And he was right. A more inclusive and active co-creation has delivered important reforms for citizens in STMA. Our civil society organization (CSOs) partners (Friends of the Nation, Berea Social Foundation and STMA City Wide Settlement Upgrading Fund) played a key role in ensuring that citizens, especially the marginalized groups, were included throughout the process. and these involvements provide a promising new trend of good governance and better service delivery for Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana.

The numbers say it all: Close to 1,200 people were directly engaged through community visits, training workshops, and brainstorming sessions. Another 10,000 people were indirectly reached through several radio programs. The diversity of stakeholders was significant – from civil society organizations, government, private sector, community leaders, youth groups, persons with disabilities, people living with HIV, fisher-folk, farmers, traders and the media. The enthusiasm of the stakeholders engaged made the exercise even more exciting and translated into a number of reforms including:

  • Sanitation reforms: It is estimated that only 17% of residents in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis have access to improved household toilet facilities in their homes, with the remaining 83% relying on the limited public toilet facilities available, which are mostly in deplorable conditions. As part of the first OGP action plan, STMA collaborated with CSOs, landlord and resident associations to develop and implement a strategy for extending toilet coverage. This commitment is being carried forward to STMA’s second action plan
  • STMA 360: The Metropolis over the past years has encountered problems of high levels of corruption and bureaucracy, especially in acquiring land and development permits, illegal construction work, lack of adequate financial and technical means to ensure effective development control, and improper management of development data to generate revenues needed for development. To address this issue, the civil society organizations partnered with the Assembly to create a digital platform known as STMA360. The platform completely digitizes the application process for development permits, allowing citizens to monitor these applications online, and reduces the chances of bribery and other forms of corruption when applying for permits. 
  • Development Control Week: STMA launched the Development Control Week Celebration to educate the public on the importance of obtaining their development permits before they construction of new structures. 
  • Green Policy: All development projects that are certified as green will receive a 30 per cent reduction in building permit fees.  
  • One Child, One Tree Policy: In order to create more green corridors to submerge carbon emissions, school students plant and nurse a tree in their school surroundings and communities.
  • Space for Active Mobility: In line with the Space for Active Mobility (SAM) program, the Assembly has commenced reservation and preservation of the City’s green corridors.
  • Infrastructure transparency reforms: To enhance infrastructure transparency and access to infrastructure project data and information, the Assembly is currently developing an Information Platform for Public Infrastructure or Disclosure Portal inline with CoST Infrastructure Data Standards (IDS) and Open Contracting for Infrastructure Data Standard (OC4IDS).  

We have seen many innovative reforms on open government at the local level, including STMA360 which increases transparency in infrastructure in the area. Why should more local governments also apply the open government principles and push reforms like these? 

Governments everywhere are facing a crisis of trust; citizens prefer not to participate in local level decision-making and action due to perceived corruption, government unresponsiveness and poor delivery of municipal services.

Government services that involve transactions are fraught with real and perceived cases of corruption, avenues to seek information are limited and bedeviled with bureaucracy, procurement of public infrastructure is shrouded in secrecy and fiscal reporting remains complex. This results in a  feeling of exclusion by citizens leading to a growing crisis of trust.

Open government tenets such as fiscal transparency, access to information, government integrity, citizen participation and the use of technology and innovation to remove opacity in governance is the surest way of enhancing civic spaces for citizens to hold decision-makers and duty bearers to account at all levels of government.

Through a multi-stakeholder approach that espouses the use of co-creation to reach desired outcomes, subnational governments are afforded a unique opportunity to understand their failings in carrying-out their mandate and embracing new approaches and reforms through commitments that can transform the status quo.

OGP promotes reforms that have the potential to improve the governance and performance of public services, and empower citizens, civil society and other groups to take collective action to achieve social outcomes. 

Inclusive citizen engagement is a cornerstone in the delivery of better public services. Hearing from diverse perspectives can enable a deeper understanding of issues, surface more innovative ideas, and contribute to better decision-making and stronger democratic governance at the local level; this can only be achieved through the application of the OGP principles.

The provision of public services is a key component of the social contract between governments and citizens, and an area where open government reform is likely to have the most meaning and impact for citizens at the local level.

The OGP concept helps to promote inclusion in decision-making thereby building trust and confidence in government. Hearing from diverse perspectives at the local level is now leading to more innovative ideas, better decision-making and stronger public support of outcomes of interventions.

Planning and implementation is most effective when done in partnership with citizens.. As an OGP Point of Contact in the government, I can boldly say that the OGP concept and journey has reaped so many benefits and advocate for its application by local governments to help push and implement reforms that will improve people’s lives.

Last year, STMA became the first local government to become a member of CoST- the Infrastructure Transparency Initiative – a step which aligns closely with commitments in its OGP action plan to enhance transparency and accountability in public infrastructure. As CoST STMA prepares to publish its First Assurance Report in the coming weeks, how do you think the CoST Assurance process will impact public infrastructure locally?

STMA became the first subnational government to join CoST international and we hope to enhance infrastructure transparency, one of our core commitments in the OGP action plan. 

We  will also be the  first local government to publicize its Assurance Report before the end of January 2020. The CoST assurance process helps stakeholders understand the data disclosed on specific infrastructure projects in the disclosure process. The process is carried out by an independent assurance team who highlights the accuracy and completeness of data so that key issues can be put into the public domain and made easily accessible.

This  process will have a great impact on the delivery of public infrastructure in STMA and empower citizens to demand better infrastructure. 

Using the CoST Multi-stakeholder and Social Accountability approaches; the private sector, civil society organisations, media, and citizens will be equipped with information to engage the government to shape reforms, demand better services and value from public infrastructure investment and also hold decision makers to account.  

Stakeholders are being equipped on CoST core features. It is envisaged that the four core features of CoST – Disclosure, Assurance, Multi-stakeholder working and Social accountabilitywill help to transform infrastructure delivery in Sekondi-Takoradi for better value and improve citizens lives. In this case, social accountability will play a key role in achieving this vision.

Comments (5)

Mildred Reply

Great initiative by the tram to involve citizens in the transformations process

Alusine Diamond-Suma Reply

This is such an amazing stride and worth sharing in the OGP space. Citizen’s participation is crucial in achieving greater sense in governance.

Sylvia Ayesu Reply

Hello Isaac. Great work. I’m a Ghanaian masters student working on Open Government. May I please get your email address in order to ask you some follow up questions?
Hope to hear from you soon.
Thank you

Isaac Aidoo Reply

Thank you all.
My email address:

Prince Appiah Reply

Inclusive participation of citizens ia key to achieving Sustainable Development Goals

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