Democracy and transparency are key values of the Commonwealth. Open and interactive communications between citizens and government are an essential part of the public engagement needed for formulation of democratic policy making.
Sierra Leone has made impressive progress in the fight against corruption through efforts such as the Open Government Initiative, as well as the work of the Anti-Corruption Commission, which has benefitted from the Secretariat’s expertise and assistance. This progress is demonstrated in the steady increase of the country’s Transparency International anti-corruption score and the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance. Such gains have created an enabling environment for embedding further good governance through innovative approaches in citizen participation.
In 2012, Commonwealth Secretariat assisted the Government of Sierra Leone in launching a new online gateway aimed at increasing accountability, transparency and citizen participation in governance and development: the Transparency Sierra Leone Portal. It is hoped that this interactive portal will help to redefine the relationship between the state and citizen.
Enabling citizens to access key data on efforts to implement the national “Agenda for Change” (the country’s poverty reduction strategy) the portal will encourage the delivery of more effective citizen-centred public services, by empowering the individual agency of individuals and civil society to monitor and actively participate in the country’s national development efforts.
The goal of this initiative is to improve transparency, public participation and collaboration in Sierra Leone through the use of ICTs.
Assistance provided by the Commonwealth was instrumental in developing and launching the portal. The Secretariat provided funding and technical development services. Presenting opportunities for direct dialogue with the President, the portal harnesses the full potential of blogs, forums and an ‘Ideas Centre’ allow citizens to submit proposals, feedback and encourage public debate on these efforts. By creating a reliable evidence base covering the full range of government activities, citizens are enabled to act as online ‘watchdogs’ - ensuring their rights are protected, projects are delivered as promised, and officials are held to account when funds are misspent.
Still in the early stages of implementation, direct impact on good governance continues to be monitored.
Government of Sierra Leone