By Binta S Jawo reporting from Ouagadougou
The Support Program for African Francophone (PAGOF) countries held a regional seminar at Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou on Monday 30th May 2022. The seminar marked the end of the first phase of PAGOF and launched the second PAGOF phase. The opening ceremony of the seminar was chaired by Bassolma Bazié, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Public Service, Labor and Social Protection, in the presence of the French Ambassador to Burkina Faso Luc Hallade.
A total of 80 participants from various countries took part in the PAGOF seminar. Representing the Gambia as a country seeking to qualify for the Open Government Partnership (OGP) is Mr Ismail Jarju, the Chairperson of the Open Society Platform of the Gambia (OSPG).
The Gambia passing the Access to Information Act in 2021 brings it closer to qualifying for the OGP. If the Anti-Corruption Bill is also passed in 2022 the Gambia will have more points to qualify for the OGP. For now, the Gambia is not a member of the OGP however, they receive some support to progress open governance in the Gambia.
About OGP and PAGOF
According to the OGP website the initiative commenced “in 2011, [when] government leaders and civil society advocates came together to create a unique partnership—one that combines these powerful forces to promote transparent, participatory, inclusive and accountable governance”.
“The Open Government Partnership (OGP) includes 77 countries and 106 local governments – representing more than two billion people – and thousands of civil society organizations”.
During France’s Co-Chairmanship of the Open Government Partnership in September 2017, France committed to supporting the transparency of public action on an international level by supporting Francophone speaking countries implement their action plan. In continuation of this initiative, the French Government has decided to increase its support to Francophone countries.
The project delivered by Expertise France (Agence Française d’Expertise Technique Internationale) and CFi (Agence Française de Dévelopement Médias) is a 4-year technical assistance project for African Francophone countries that aims to support reform initiatives toward a more open government in Africa.
The project supports three African Francophone countries that have already qualified to be members of the OGP in 2017, namely Tunisia, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire. The project also aims to support African Francophone countries in their efforts to qualify for the OGP regional project.
PAGOF Regional Seminars
The yearly regional seminar is a meeting for African Francophone countries working on the OGP initiative to exchange good practices as stipulated in the Best Military Practice and support countries that wish to join.
The first Project to Support French-speaking Open Governments (PAGOF) Seminar was held in November 2018 in Tunis and the second edition was held in Abidjan in 2019. When Covid 19 Pandemic struck a webinar was organized on 1st December 2020 as a replacement for the yearly seminar.
After Tunis in 2018, and Abidjan in 2019, Ouagadougou became the 3rd country to host the PAGOF seminar. The seminar which concluded the first phase of PAGOF has recorded multiple achievements since its establishment, particularly in countries such as Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Tunisia.
From 2017 to 2022, PAGOF has supported Governments, civil society organisations and the media to expand open governance, transparency and accountability of governments, access to information and citizen participation in the decisions of governments.
In Burkina Faso, 105 technical assistance activities were carried out and a total of 2,511 people were trained. PAGOF has also, among other things, built the capacities of the media, journalists, CSOs and the administration on the methodologies of the OGP.
The program also advanced fiscal inclusivity through the publication of municipal budget data and the fight against corruption in the three countries. Part of the project also looked at confronting racketeering in public services and the establishment of a system for recording and processing complaints within departments.
Burkina Faso’s Permanent Secretary for the Modernization of the Administration and Good Governance, Rimlawend Etienne Kaboré told delegates that they “have developed two national action plans. A first national action plan for the 2017-2019 period, a second action plan for the 2019-2021 period and we are in the third phase with a third action plan for the 2021-2023 period”.
Some of the achievements noted by the Permanent Secretary include “digitization” and “the e-competition which gives candidates the possibility of submitting their applications online”. Turning their attention to legislative improvement Permanent Secretary, Rimlawend Etienne Kaboré added that “laws have been adopted such as the law on the Right of Access to Information, the law on the Fight Against Corruption in Burkina Faso. So, there are a number of achievements that we have obtained in this first phase of PAGOF”.
Senegal and Morocco join PAGOF Phase 2
In view of the results achieved, Phase 2 of PAGOF will continue implementation in its three countries. In addition to Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Tunisia, PAGOF welcomes two new countries in Senegal and Morocco to join its objective to improve open governance, accountability, access to information and citizen participation.
PAGOF 2 will also continue to support the efforts of other Francophone-African countries’ progress efforts to join the OGP and will strengthen the regional dynamics of open governance through networking and exchange of experience between peers. The second phase will commence in 2022 and conclude in 2025.