PRESS STATEMENT ON AFIC’S 2021 – 2025 STRATEGIC PLAN

24TH MARCH 2021

The Governing Council and Members of the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) are today 24th March 2021 pleased to launch our new strategic plan themed, “Access to Information: The Bridge to Sustainable Development”. The strategic plan is informed by collective lessons from our members and Secretariat as well as the current contexts of right to information, transparency and accountability in Africa.

Without public access to information, the journey to sustainable development will be a long and difficult one. In the last one year, the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed that access to information is not only the difference between life and death, but also critical for a transparent and an accountable use of scarce resources, donated and appropriated to fight the outbreak, yet, both are challenged in Africa.

People whose lives are disproportionately affected by a lack of information are at the same time most challenged in accessing it, are our big concern. Policies matter, yet most African countries are yet to ratify, domesticate and effectively implement access to information laws – contrary to SDG 16.10.2 and African Union treaties. There is a great link between access to information and service delivery in the key sectors of Health, Education, Agriculture, Elections, Extractives and natural resources and infrastructure, our plan is to demystify sustainable development.

Access to Information: The Bridge to Sustainable Development is our focus in the next five years. Our US$ 12,313,811 Strategic Plan, seeks to among others advocate for ratification and domestication of the six African Union treaties that recognize the right to information; campaign for adoption of ATI laws in at least 25 African countries; promote transparency and accountability in key sectors and thematic areas; strengthen AFIC members especially in respect to use regional and international mechanisms to advance the right to information; and to boost the capacity of AFIC Secretariat.

Based on our learning that, vulnerable and disadvantaged groups are particularly challenged in accessing information that is essential for their participation and personal development, the strategic plan gives their access to information special attention in order to ensure that no one is left behind. Our programmes will pay special attention to women, youth, persons with disabilities and displaced persons to ensure they access the information they need for their effective participation in public affairs and personal development.

Our priority areas in the next five years!

Focus demands sacrifice, our new strategic plan will focus on four key priorities and thematic areas: right to information, transparency and accountability, membership strengthening and institutional strengthening.

Bridging the Right to information; The lack of appropriate legal framework and their implementation undermine the enjoyment of citizens’ right to information. To bridge existing gaps we will actively campaign for ratification and domestication of African Union treaties that recognize the right to information, undertake promotional measures to support the implementation of access to information laws by governments and business companies, build CSO demand for and use of public information and collaborate with and enhance capacities of respective Information Commissions and similar ATI oversight bodies.

Fostering Transparency and Accountability; In this programme area we aim to promote adoption and implementation of open contracting standards and norms by governments and public institutions; ensure the protection of whistle-blowers; strengthen capacity of CSOs and other stakeholders to use published data to promote efficiency, value for money, transparency, fair business practices and better delivery of public services and enhance the responsiveness of African governments to citizens demands for transparency and accountability.

Strengthen capacity of AFIC Members; Our members- institutions and their staff are the greatest assets for the advancement of the right to information, transparency and accountability in respective countries yet quite a number have capacity challenges to pursue this goal. Over the next five years AFIC will train and equip its members to actively promote and defend the right to information, effectively use respective regional and international mechanisms for the promotion of RTI, transparency and accountability, strengthen coordination of members for collective actions, recruit new members in countries where there are no members and, promote knowledge and information sharing.

AFIC’s institutional strengthening; Successful implementation of our strategic plan will require adequate staffing, skilling of staff, proper funding, effective leadership and oversight by the Government Council and the general Assembly.  In this regard, existing staff will be reoriented to the new strategic plan, more staff recruited to fill existing gaps, organize appropriate training and capacity building initiatives. In addition, opportunities for more resources, learning, oversight and replication of our experiences will be sought.

To all our stakeholders, this is a remarkable opportunity for us all, to continue facilitating the growth of a Pan-African network that engages different actors to advance the right of access to information on the African continent. It is expected to facilitate our continued conversations with various stakeholders, engagement opportunities, and especially the telling of stories about how we’re bringing this plan to life, and how we experience it in our daily work life. We will also continue with forums, and communications seeking for support for our Vision: An Africa where all citizens are able to exercise their right of access to information.

Our previous successes and learning were made possible by hard work but also by the support of our funders, the United Nations system, African Union institutions and organs, national governments, our members, partners and the Governing Council. If access to information is going to be the bridge to sustainable development, our stakeholders will be the bridge for people in Africa to access public information, and your support to the realization of this ambitious plan is needed now more than ever before!

We are pleased to introduce and invite you to partner and support the implementation of our new five-year strategic plan, “Access to Information: The Bridge to Sustainable Development”.

For Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC)

EMMANUEL SAFFA

Chairperson, Governing Council

Africa Freedom of Information Centre

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