When Tanzanian President, His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete, opens the second OGP Africa Regional Meeting in Dar es Salaam today, he will be addressing an auditorium packed with open government reformers from Tanzania and the rest of the continent. The theme of the meeting is “enhancing accountability through open government,” an issue the President has committed himself and his government to throughout his term in office, and that he hopes to be remembered for.
As he speaks, many minds will likely wander to the recently proposed Statistics and Cyber Crime Acts, as well as the pending Access to Information and Media Services Bills — legislation that has generated much discussion within the country and abroad.
Chances are strong that President Kikwete’s speech will lead to some impassioned debates during the 3-day conference. We couldn’t be more excited. One of OGP’s primary objectives is to provide a space for civil society and governments to come together and openly debate important policy issues just like this one. The statement issued by civil society at the end of today’s civil society day, which calls for the protection of civil space is a strong start.
During the OGP Africa Regional Meeting, Tanzanian government and civil society activists will have an opportunity not only to talk with one another, but to draw on expertise from OGP participating countries across the continent. After all, Tanzania is not the only country to be tackling these reforms.
Opening up government is a work in progress in every country in the world; that is why OGP exists, and why public debate of critical reforms is so essential.