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Oil funds: Citizen power vital in dealing with offenders

Aside strengthening the sanctions regime to deal with offending public officials in their use of Ghana’s petroleum revenues, citizen power will be crucial and more effective in curing the canker, governance expert, Dr Fletcher Tembo has said.

He explained that “citizen power should be looked at more seriously because the developments happen in peoples communities and so the more they know where their oil and gas revenues have gone, they will be keen to monitor the projects to which they are applied.”
Dr Tembo is also the Executive Director of Make All Voices Count (MAVC), a global initiative that employs innovation and technology to promote transparency, fight corruption, empower citizens and make governments more effective and accountable.
Even though Ghana commenced drilling of oil 10 years ago most citizens do not know that revenues coming from the oil resource are supporting some projects (roads, classrooms, bridges,) in their own communities.
Since they have no knowledge of the projects, no action is taken when the projects stall or are poorly done.
Several visits made by journalists, Think Tanks, and officials of the Public Interest and Accountability (PIAC) to communities in Ghana have revealed lack of information of locals on the use of oil funds on projects within their own areas.
Dr Tembo who is also the Executive Director of Make All Voices Count (MAVC) pointed out that through technology, citizens they are able to take photographs of the projects and communicate to government authorities.
MAVC through its partner agencies provides funding to projects across Africa that empowers the citizenry via technology to demand accountability.
He disclosed that in all 12 projects had come from Ghana, one of which came through the Global Innovation Competition at the University of Ghana on climate change and the other, Action Voices which successfully built a technology platform to connect citizens with their district assemblies.
Another group had developed an application that helps engage citizens much more so they can follow the story as to which projects have received funding from oil revenues, who the contractor is and how much is being spent on that project.
“From the experimentation, we think a lot of what we are seeing is positive. We see that government is very much interested in supporting the projects, Dr Tembo observed.
The programme started in June 2013 working in 12 countries eight of them in Africa including Ghana.
“We apply creative and cutting-edge solutions, many of which use technology and explore the role innovation can play in securing responsive, accountable governance,” the governance expert stated.
Making All Voices Count is an international initiative that harnesses the power of innovation and new technologies to support effective, accountable governance.

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