Africa in the OGP: Why 2015 is a big year
By Maureen Kariuki, Alvin Mosioma and Mukelani Dimba
In 2011, South Africa joined 7 other countries to found the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Since then, it has been joined by Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Malawi and most recently, Tunisia as African countries participating in the OGP.. For each of these countries, the motivation for joining the partnership was a desire to make their governments more accountable and responsive to their citizens.
The initial enthusiasm with which countries sought to use the OGP to advance open government reform in their countries seems to have waned, however. A worrying trend towards the closing of civic spaces in many African countries has been observed. In some countries reports are beginning to emerge alleging increasingly attempts by government to muzzle civil society and media in their countries through the passage of oppressive laws, regulations, and policies. The growing terrorist activities and threats of terrorist groups such as Boko Haram in West Africa and Al-Shabaab in East Africa presents another cause for concern for African states. The violence perpetrated by these groups has served to switch the narrative of governance in African states from democracy and openness to increased surveillance and homeland security. The pace of political change and growth; only a few years bursting with a thirst for openness and inclusivity; has become slow and in some countries the gear has been switched into reverse.
In 2015, however, the need to promote of transparent and accountable governance to address shared concerns in Africa is again set to take center stage.
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