As Sierra Leone enters its second year as a full member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), I am proud of the steps we are taking to embrace the principles of transparency and accountability in all that we do as a country.
Open government in Sierra Leone is already paying dividends. The use of open data, which enabled authorities to rapidly share outbreak and treatment information among medical professionals and the community, greatly enhanced the country’s Ebola response. We hope to build on these gains to continue making the government work better and smarter for the people.
I led our government into OGP after signing Sierra Leone’s first Freedom of Information law in 2013. We subsequently created a National Steering Committee with 17 Civil Society Organizations and 17 Government, Ministries, Departments, and Agencies to spearhead the development of Sierra Leone’s National Action Plan and serve as a forum for public dialogue. In the spirit of openness and collaboration, a campaign across 14 districts and including diaspora from Guinea, Belgium, the United States, and the United Kingdom — a first for OGP — gave Sierra Leoneans a voice in defining their priorities for reform. This was a policy by the people in action.
The political space created by the Open Government Partnership has allowed the Government of Sierra Leone to broaden its base of reforms to increase transparency, reduce corruption, and empower citizens. From strengthening corporate accountability by making mining and agricultural lease agreements public to improving the quality of public services by launching citizen charters, the implementation of Sierra Leone’s OGP commitments continue apace.
Furthermore, Sierra Leone continues to embrace OGP’s race-to-the-top approach in learning from its peers as it journeys to greater openness. Participation in OGP has enabled Sierra Leone to plug into a global network of reformers, which has proved indispensable to its reform efforts by providing needed ideas, inspiration, and expertise. As a result we need not reinvent the wheel nor stumble where our peers have before us.
The OGP Global Summit in Mexico City presents a significant opportunity for us to have a conversation with the rest of the world on advancing the ideals of open and participatory 21st century government. Sierra Leone remains committed to those ideals, which will underpin our success in creating a more just, responsive, and effective government for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans.
This post is part of a series produced by the Huffington Post and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) surrounding OGP’s 2015 Global Summit, which is took place in Mexico City from October 27-29.