Ghana’s democratic institutions, since the reintroduction of civil rule in 1992, have largely remained weak and ineffective due to poor leadership and lack of transparency on the activities of elected officials. This has eroded public confidence significantly and undermined the legitimacy of the affected public officers and their capacity to govern. Ghana is a young democracy fast maturing within Africa’s Sub-Saharan region.
After five peaceful general elections observed as free and fair, Ghana is consolidating its foundations as a stable and democratic state in West Africa. Ghana has been soaring through elections since 1992 up to date. However, to give credence to our democratic process and track what the activities of our elected officials, citizens need to be empowered to demand and ensure proper representation, accountability and good service delivery. To this end, there are on-going efforts by the Trade Unions, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), political activists, and Faith-Based Organisations (FBOs) to ensure reforms, and it is necessary that these efforts are reinforced with social mobilization, citizen action and popular engagement in promoting transparency.
In this context, Hutspace has provided – “Odekro”, a social platform that seeks to empower communities and marginalized populations to promote transparency, accountability and democratic governance through citizen action and engagement with relevant government agencies. Specifically, the intervention will focus on the Parliament/Legislature of Ghana.
In the Akan chieftaincy hierarchy, the Odekro is the lowest sub-divisional chief responsible for ruling a town and making sure the citizens are taken care of. Members of Parliament (MPs) are elected to serve constituencies and our proposed intervention, Odekro, monitors them.
Odekro’s goal is to harness technology to create a national platform for promoting transparency and popular participation to keep a keen eye on public officials, especially parliament, by providing public online access to Bills, Motions, and Parliamentary debates (Hansards).
In addition, Odekro provides tools that allow commentary and discussions around these records. By providing this, it makes it easy for citizens to discuss national issues being debated in Parliament, report issues affecting their constituencies, comment on on-going projects in their constituencies, follow the specific issues the MPs for their constituencies are contributing to in Parliament, and what they are saying, and to generally take a keen interest in how they are represented.
Hopefully MPs will take the opportunity to become more open, to engage with citizens, by answering questions asked by citizens, providing information on on-going projects and interacting generally with citizens they represent either by logging on and using the platform themselves, or designating aides to do so on their behalf. The platform will focus on disseminating information and educating the electorate on policy, political debates, and the performance of parliamentarians.
Odekro was unveiled December 1st, 2012, with democracy resources, profiles of members of parliament, a searchable Hansard, scorecards and vital statistics of regions/ Constituencies/Districts.
For the first time in Ghana since independence 55 years ago, Ghanaians will be able to evaluate their MPs’ speeches in Parliament as documented in the Hansard. The platform doesn’t provide any commentary on the Hansard but, presents it in a user friendly, searchable and makes the entries available under every Member of Parliament’s (MPs) profile.