|Gilbert Sendugwa, Coordinator & Head of Secretariat of the Africa Freedom of Information Centre
, and an active member of the GPSA Knowledge Platform, shares with us his reflections on the current state of the right to information and how it can enhance social accountability.
According to him, the situation of citizens’ Access to information (ATI) has improved rapidly around the world and more so in Africa over the past decade. This is particularly so in respect to adoption of Access to Information Laws. Altogether, there are nearly 105 countries with these laws. In Africa, the number has increased from 5 countries in the year 2010 to 19 today, with Kenya who ATI law was signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta some weeks ago. Gilbert thinks that, whereas a lot of work still needs to be done in terms of implementation, more knowledge tools and technology have evolved over the past years, which present important opportunities to strengthen both the demand and the implementation of ATI laws.
In his interview, Gilbert also shares with us a number of lessons arising from case studies of citizens who use access to information in Uganda, Kenya and Malawi to expose corruption and redress. Among these lessons are:
a) ATI laws are important in providing people the power to exercise their right to know
b) Existence of laws in themselves is not enough. People need awareness of the existence of these and ability to use the law to solve their problems.
c) When people are trained on ATI, they use the acquired knowledge to solve their problems in a variety of spheres.