Learner’s Submission: Open Government Data in Liberia

“Up to the writing of this essay there are no specific open government data in my country; Liberia. But the government have been trying very hard to show some levels of support in the areas of open government data. since its inception in 2005, the government of Liberia under the leadership Africa’s first female President has made some impressive reforms to support open government and has signed various conventions and policies and frameworks to facilitate such.
Before this government, Liberia among the least compliance countries in the world in the issues of transparency, accountability and human rights violation. In the very early days of the government, Liberia was able to sign onto the United Nations convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2005 thereby declaring corruption number one enemy in the nation. The Liberian government was the first African country government to sign and comply with the Extractive Industry transparency Initiative (EITTI) with the aim of governing the country’s natural resources. There are several other frameworks the government have put in place to safeguard the nation’s asset against corruption individuals and to show case on transparency and accountability such as the Liberia Ant-corruption Commission (LACC), the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC), and the Good Governance Commission. To open the government to the people, the Liberian government was the first in West Africa to pass a Freedom of Information Act.
With all the above just mentioned the government is still behind in so many other processes that will ensure open government data for citizens engagement. Accordingly, the legal frameworks to implement these sound policies put together have been very difficult. Citizens are yet to see the implementation of these legal frameworks and policies. There are numerous cases of certain individuals bypassing the Public Procurement and Concession Commission and carrying on fraudulent bidding processes. But again another argument that comes into play is the government lacks the incentive structures, capacity, infrastructure and resources to combat these irregularities. With all these problems, it is encouraging to see the Johnson-Sirleaf government through some partnerships to commit to the development of a citizen website and an open data portal to allow more openness to information about the government dealings. Presently, it is difficult to obtain information about government activities.
Non governmental Organizations such as Transparency International, Accountability Lab, iLab Liberia and other local and international partners are committed to supporting the government through initiatives the promote free access to government data. For example, Accountability Lab and iLab Liberia are supporting these commitments through a project called “Knowmore LIB” meaning a knowledgeable person in Liberia. “Knowmore LIB” is a collaborative effort across civil society and government in Liberia to ensure that information can be used by Liberians to make their government more open, accountable and responsive to citizens. Their intends are to help the government in its open data efforts to make information accessible to all citizens.
In concluding, I will like to say the Liberia government on the open data to citizens is still on the stage of designing and trying to usher itself into the implementation, monitoring and will later get into the evaluation stage. ” – Alhaji S. Kamara – Minnesota, United States

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