The Gambia and Sierra Leone Country Programmes Manager for the Parliamentary Network Africa (PNAfrica), Mr. Gilbert Borketey Boyefio, has expressed the hope that the Gambia Assembly will come tops in the next edition of the Open Parliament Index (OPI), after the successful implementation of its country programmes.
“It is our expectation that through the successful implementation of these projects, in collaboration with the Network and the National Assembly, the next index assessment will see the Gambia National Assembly performing much better than previously,” he said while he made a presentation at the Official Launch of the Network of Parliamentary Monitoring Organizations -The Gambia (NEPMOG).
According to the Country Manager, ever since his organization made its first physical presence in the Gambia in the year 2021, with the organization of its first workshop for CSOs under the Open Parliament Engagements and Networking in West Africa (OPEN West Africa) project, it has never looked back but continues to strive to make an impact to nurture the budding relationship between CSOs and the National Assembly.
He reiterated that The OPEN West Africa Project had two main objectives including the need: To facilitate networking among parliamentary monitoring organizations (PMOs) in West Africa for experience sharing and collaborative dialogue; and the need to strengthen parliamentary openness across national and regional legislatures in West Africa through a legislative transparency tool.
He indicated in his presentation that, “The Network of Parliamentary Monitoring Organizations-The Gambia, which we are launching today, is one of the 10 networks of PMOs that were created under this project. The rest are Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Togo, Niger, Nigeria and Ghana.
“Six of these Networks are currently being supported financially to work work with their National Parliament to address the gaps identified by the Open Parliament Index (OPI) report.”
Mr. Gilbert Boyefio also explained that PNAfrica has established an online parliamentary Resource Hub to create and share knowledge materials for learning and sharing among PMOs across Africa; Provided a baseline of indicators to measure parliamentary openness by publishing the Open Parliament Index which has stimulated additional public awareness and support for strengthening parliamentary openness, especially across Africa.
According to him, “Leaders, Staff, and Members of Parliament have expressed public support for the Index. And for some poor-performing parliaments, members, and staff have been inspired to work hard to improve parliamentary systems and mechanisms to improve their ranking in the next publication of the index.”
He informed the gathering that the Open Parliament Index (OPI), which was launched on July 20, 2022, and was used to assess 13 West African Parliaments on their level of transparency, public accountability, and civic participation exposed the weaknesses that exist in parliaments across Africa, especially the west African sub-region, and the need to initiate targeted measures to help remedy the situation.
On the score sheet for instance, the Gambia placed 4th on Transparency with a score of (22.85); 9th on Civic Participation, with a score of (14) which is below the regional average of (15.57); and 8th on Public Accountability, with a score of (8.18) which is also below the regional average of (9.13).
In his recommendations, the Gambia Country Programmes Manager said, “Proactive disclosure of information will promote a culture of openness. Parliaments should work with civil society and other partners to build strategic relationships with community and local radio stations to ensure that the broadcast of parliamentary information is democratized.
“Institute reforms to open committee hearings and make reports available to the public. Parliaments should collaborate with the public to build confidence and increase trust. Pursue Digital transformation by adapting roll call or electronic voting systems to record individual votes and ensure accountability of Members of Parliament.”
Source: PNAfrica Comms