In an effort to strengthen parliamentary democracy, Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin has urged civil society organizations (CSOs) to actively engage in the national legislative processes.
He said this on Thursday in Accra during the presentation of the inaugural Africa Open Parliament Index findings to Parliament by the Parliamentary Network Africa (PNAfrica) and the Ghana Parliamentary Monitoring Organizations Network (GPMON).
According to the research, Ghana came out on top in an assessment of parliamentary openness in the West African area.
An instrument called the Africa Open Parliament Index (OPI) aims to gauge how transparent legislative bodies are in the continent on a regular basis.
The OPI applies the three Open Parliament standards: Transparency, Civic Participation and Public Accountability, to assess Parliaments across Africa.
The Executive Director of PNAfrica Mr. Sammy Obeng, who made the presentation to Parliament, said the purpose of the OPI is to strengthen Parliaments through CSO- Parliament collaborations. “It makes recommendations, which when pursued diligently over time, can show real progress and improvements in the level of openness in the assessed Parliaments”, he said.
According to Mr. Obeng, the OPI was created with the following three specific goals in mind: to strengthen parliamentary institutions in order to advance parliamentary openness across national, sub-national, and regional parliaments; to identify, compare, and exchange knowledge and best practices among parliaments and among CSOs that work with parliaments; and to foster collaboration between civil society and parliaments in order to achieve the principles of open parliament, providing for the free and open exchange of ideas and information.
To objectively and independently rank the parliaments of the chosen countries in a way that identifies the success stories and the Open Parliament gaps, he claimed that the combined indicators used for the Index are drawn from international best practices on openness, as well as minimum standards in parliamentary transparency, civic participation, and public accountability.
The Africa OPI is a collaborative effort of the Africa Parliamentary Monitoring Organizations (APMON) Working Group, which is made up of renowned parliamentary monitoring organizations in Africa, including the Pan African Parliament Civil Society Forum, which is coordinated by the Center for Human Rights of the University of Ghana, Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Parliamentary Monitoring Group (South Africa), and Mzalendo Trust (Kenya).