29 August 2011

Rwanda recognises power of access to information to achieve socio-economic development

A key focus of the work of SAHA's Freedom of Information Programme (FOIP) is to develop recognition of the link between access to information and the realisation of socio-economic rights.

Recent statements by the Hon Potrais Musoni, Minister for Cabinet Affairs of the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda, demonstrate that the recognition of the importance of access to information in facilitating the realisation of socio-economic rights continues to grow in Africa.

Speaking at a conference on open democracy, elections and governance and the development of a draft model access to information law for Africa in Nairobi, Kenya on 29 August, Minister Musoni recognised access to information as a necessary tool for socio-economic development. He stated that access to information is a tool that can be used to achieve poverty reduction, food security and economic development.

Minister Musoni argued that if access to information is viewed in this way, no African government could oppose its implementation.

Minister Musoni also emphasised the importance of popularising the right, by educating communities about the importance of the right and what can be achieved if it is used regularly and effectively.

Though Rwanda does not currently have an access to information law, SAHA has previously reported that the Rwandan cabinet had approved an access to information Bill. Minister Musoni confirmed the commitment of the Rwandan government to pass the law this year.

The recognition by the Minister of the fundamental importance of the right to information to ordinary citizens is an important step toward improving and promoting the right on the continent. SAHA applauds the Minister for his progressive and insightful position.