In embracing a commitment to openness, transparency, accountability, and citizen participation, the Parliament of Ghana has within two years of the publication of PNAfrica’s Open Parliament Index (OPI), undergone a significant transformation. These changes have marked a crucial shift towards a more inclusive and democratic governance system.
Several key initiatives, such as the establishment of the Citizens Bureau, the inauguration of an Open Government Partnership (OGP) Caucus in Parliament, and the breakdown of the Public Affairs Directorate of Parliament to better engage with its different publics, are to mention a few layers that will further widen the doors of its openness. This is undoubtedly, a positive evolution which the Parliamentary Network Africa (PNAfrica) is very proud to be part of.
PNAfrica’s Role and the Open Parliament Index (OPI)
The Parliamentary Network Africa (PNAfrica) has played a pivotal role in Ghana’s journey towards parliamentary openness. The Open Parliament Index (OPI) publication has been instrumental in benchmarking the transparency and openness of parliamentary institutions across the African continent. In a groundbreaking achievement, Ghana’s Parliament secured the top position in the OPI rankings, reaffirming its commitment to openness and accountability. This has served as a catalyst that has propelled Ghana’s Parliament to deepen its openness to ensure that it remains on top in the next publication of the index which will be due at the end of 2024.
The Citizens Bureau: A Catalyst for Engagement and Information Sharing
The Citizens’ Bureau stands as a groundbreaking initiative within Ghana’s Parliament, serving as a conduit for effective communication between Parliament and CSOs. Functioning as a platform for public information dissemination, the Bureau ensures that crucial information from Parliament reaches CSOs, promoting a more transparent and inclusive parliamentary process. Moreover, the Citizens Bureau plays a pivotal role in disseminating relevant research works conducted by CSOs and think tanks to Members and officials of Parliament. This exchange of information aims to enrich the parliamentary discourse and decision-making processes.
Group photograph at the inauguration ceremony.
Additionally, the Citizens Bureau takes on the responsibility of formulating, implementing, and reporting on Open Parliament Initiatives under the Open Government Partnership. This underscores Ghana’s commitment to fostering an open and responsive parliamentary system that actively involves citizens and promotes good governance.
Inauguration of the OGP Caucus: A Commitment to Open Government Partnership:
Ghana’s Parliament has further demonstrated its commitment to openness and transparency by inaugurating an OGP Caucus. The Open Government Partnership is a global initiative that brings together governments and civil society to promote transparency, empower citizens, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The OGP Caucus within Parliament signifies a dedication to fostering collaborative efforts between government and civil society to co-create and implement open government initiatives. This caucus acts as a driving force behind legislative reforms that aim to enhance accountability, transparency, and citizen participation.
Breakdown of Public Affairs Directorate: For Better Public Engagement
The Parliament of Ghana has now broken down the role of the Public Affairs Directorate to include: The Department of Public Engagement; the Department of Media Relations; and the Department of Broadcasting which are very much distinct from each other in their specific roles and activities. This is to ensure that the citizen’s engagement with Parliament is made easy with specific departmental heads in charge of specific requests and interactions from the public.
PNAfrica’s contribution goes beyond mere assessment, as the organization has actively supported Ghana’s Parliament in drafting its National Action Plans. This technical assistance has been crucial in developing strategies and initiatives that align with international best practices in parliamentary openness. By leveraging its expertise, PNAfrica has facilitated the implementation of concrete measures to enhance transparency, accountability, and citizen participation within Ghana’s legislative framework.
Ghana’s Parliament has made remarkable strides in embracing openness, transparency, and accountability. The establishment of the Citizens Bureau, the inauguration of the OGP Caucus, and the active involvement of PNAfrica through the Open Parliament Index highlight the country’s commitment to fostering a more inclusive and responsive democratic system. As Ghana continues to lead the way in parliamentary openness, these initiatives serve as models for other nations seeking to strengthen their democratic institutions and build a more participatory governance structure.