Four African Leaders Say They Hope to Join OGP

29 March 2013

President Obama March 28 met with the heads of state of four African countries – Cape Verde, Malawi, Senegal and Sierra Leone – indicating afterwards that all four hope to join the Open Government Partnership.

“So what our discussion has focused on is, number one, how do we continue to build on strong democracies; how do we continue to build on transparency and accountability,” Obama said, according to a transcript of his remarks. He continued:

Because what we’ve learned over the last several decades is that when you’ve got good governance — when you have democracies that work, sound management of public funds, transparency and accountability to the citizens that put leaders in place — it turns out that that is not only good for the state and the functioning of government, it’s also good for economic development because it gives people confidence, it attracts business, it facilitates trade and commerce.

And all of these leaders have good stories to tell on that. They recognize that there’s still more work to be done, and so I’m very pleased that all of them are looking to move forward on the Open Government Partnership that we helped to organize through the United Nations several years ago, and that we are now seeing countries from all across the world sign up for — setting up international norms for accountability and transparency that can lead to good governance.

Only two of the countries, Cape Verde and Malawi, would qualify for membership currently under the OGP’s 16 point system for determining eligibility. Senegal is 6 points away from qualifying. Sierra Leone needs three more points, which it could gain if it approves a long-pending freedom of information bill.

Recent signs from the new Sierra Leone information minister, who attended meetings in Washington on the OGP March 27, have been encouraging. (See previous report.)

The OGP has 58 members out of the 79 who meet the eligibility threshold. A new eligibility list is being prepared.

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