Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), through the Ministry of Information and National Guidance, has launched the ‘Ask Your Government’ (AYG) website.
AYG is an initiative of the OPM in partnership with Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) and the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA). It is aimed at promoting Ugandan citizens’ right to information in support of transparency, accountability and good governance.
Rose Namayanja Nsereko, Minister of Information and National Guidance who officiated the launch, highlighted the changes that government has undertaken in improving information availability within government and amongst Ugandan citizens.
She said: “When AFIC started with this project, we wanted to develop a tool to help citizenry not only to understand but to also use the legal tools to actively participate in the public decision-making processes and structures in an informed way.”
Simon Mayende, Director at the Ministry of Information and National Guidance (MING) in the OPM, stressed the commitment of the Ministry towards “ensuring that the public access information held by all public bodies.” He added that “there should be no barriers of this right of citizens.”
However, the real Ugandan doesn’t have easy and cheap access to Internet and citizenry is not still completely integrated to the use of new technologies. There are some parts of rural Uganda where access to internet is costly and where local leaders and stakeholders haven’t yet incorporated new technologies to their daily work.
Support from key stakeholders from government, The World Bank and new partners are a window of opportunity for these initiatives. AFIC experience has shown that civil society and community groups receive positively tools that empower them and meeting with information/communication officials welcome innovations.
Ask Your Government will benefit both government and society in the following ways:
1. A more accessible transparent and effective government
2. Saves money, time and public officers work of answering repeated requests
3. Provides statistics about submitted and answered requests
4. Incorporates the use of ICT and its benefits in the work of Government MDAs
AFIC is currently working in partnership with CIPESA, who can bring expertise and support in this stage of implementation. It has also been in partnership with the Coalition of Freedom of Information represented by HURINET.