On 28 to 30 May Open Government Partnership members in Africa held a regional conference in Mombasa, Kenya, under the theme: 'Taking OGP Forward in Africa'.
The conference commenced on the afternoon of 28 May, with civil society meeting prior the main event to discuss matters such as how to "broaden, strengthen and engage a strong African civil society network around OGP".
On 29 May, representatives from 16 African nations were officially welcomed by Dr Fred Matiang'i, Kenya's Minister of ICT.
The official two day session saw robust discussion on what the "African OGP" should be. Questions around existing peer review mechanisms like the African Peer Review Mechanism were raised in how they relate to OGP.
Further questions include that from ODAC's Executive Director, Alison Tilley, who asked "What will distinguish the Africa's OGP plan?" acknowledging that,"...we all know the common challenges that we face together as Africans" and by extension, meaning that the answer needs to come from Africa.
The most fundamental outcome of the meeting was a visible and trustful relationship between Government and civil society representatives.
Other specific outcomes include:
1. Dr Fred Matiang'i, Kenya's Minister of ICT promised that he will ensure that the long awaited Freedom of Information Bill is tabled to Parliament for consideration and adoption.
2. Hon. Alhaji Alpha Kanu, Sierra Leone Minister of Information and Communications promised that his Government will in the near future get the draft Freedom of information Bill adopted. He also indicated the country's eagerness to join OGP.
3. South Africa Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ayanda Dlodlo called upon African governments to learn from Africa civil society who are networked and keep sharing and supporting each other on OGP in Africa.
4. Minister Richard Twodong and Director of Information Simon Mayende promised that consultations would be expedited and Uganda's OGP membership would be confirmed sooner than later.
5. It was agreed that OGP is an essential platform to strengthen existing mechanisms such as the African peer Review Mechanism through its emphasis on dialogue, inclusiveness and timely action on grand challenges.
6. The meeting further agreed that OGP should be practically tailored towards socio-economic justice and building an inclusive partnership that African citizens can relate with and truly be a part of.
7. Civil society from Ghana promised to engage with Government on the basis of the country action plan to ensure that Government commitment in respect of the Freedom of Information Bill is expedited.
8. Africa civil society agreed that it would be useful to hold a separate regional OGP meeting to discuss OGP and civil society engagement in Africa
9. The tool http://africafoicentre.org/ogp/developed by AFIC to help civil society monitor implementation of OGP commitments was welcomed. Civil society agreed that following the meeting they would meet at country level to deliberate on the status of implementation and share with the rest of the community through the Africa OGP CSO listserve.
10. Civil society agreed to support each other in campaigning for eligible but non OGP member countries to expedite joining of OGP. In the same vein they committed to deepen engagement on OGP issues by mobilising other civil society "missing voices" at national level from different sectors.
11. Civil society participants agreed to facilitate media and public debates about the OGP in their respective countries so that the issue is put firmly on the public agenda, improve public awareness and understanding of it and thereby make it a real issue that citizens in different African countries are engaging, and through this process, contribute to the broadening and deepening of the OGP in Africa.
12. Participants appreciated AFIC for facilitating OGP knowledge-sharing across the continent through webinars, video conferences, listserves and country support missions. They encouraged that these should be continued.
You can find out more details at www.ogpafrica.org and on twitter by searching for #opengovafrica.