Business News of Saturday, 30 September 2017

Source: GNA

Penplusbytes reaches Benin and Togo with social monitoring tool

Penplusbytes has extended its “Tech Driven Social Accountability for Results” project (www.platformafrica.net), an innovative tool that monitors social policies to Benin and Togo, to ensure it benefits all citizens in West Africa.

The two countries are benefiting after the project was successfully deployed in Ghana to monitor two national policies; the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) and the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP).

The project is aimed at creating pathways for citizens to track its implementation for better results.

The www.platformafrica.net project is powered by Kakum, an Information Technology Interactive Application named after Ghana’s Kakum National Park.

Kakum is an open source citizens monitoring tool designed to help civil society and citizens to monitor the implementation of social intervention policies, thereby, ensuring better policy implementation and results.

It comes with many features such as adding new projects to the platform; filter and categorize various issues; rate policies and provide citizens the opportunity to give feedback and raise issues on policies being tracked.

It has the added feature of sending alerts to duty-bearers and also providing feedback to citizens on issues they had queried.

During the project implementation a year ago in Ghana Penplusbytes, in partnership with sponsors of the Project, the Open Society Initiative in West Africa (OSIWA), used Kakum to monitor two national policies, the LEAP and the GSFP, creating pathways for citizens to track its implementation for better results.

In Benin’s capital Contonu, Penplusbytes is supporting three Civil Society Organisations to leverage Kakum through a hackathon (#hack4citizens) from this September, by bringing together teams of solution developers and civil society actors to customise Kakum to respond to peculiar needs of activists working in social interventions projects.

The main goal of #hack4citizens was to build on lessons learnt in Ghana whilst creating an innovative space to connect CSOs who were going to use Kakum in Benin to launch a version to solve their peculiar problems.

Mr Jerry Sam, the Programme Director at Penplusbytes, said the project supported timely input and processing of GSFP Policy feedback from citizens, which enabled corrective action to be undertaken when there was an issue with quality of food served to school children.

“We are elated about the opportunity to use Kakum,” Joell Atayi-Guedegbe, the head of Nouvelle Ethique, said adding that: “Without strong public opinion, there will be no democracy; we have to work more to awaken our consciences. The project that the Penplusbytes is rolling out in West Africa is coming at a good time since it will help us achieve our goals.”

Kwami Ahiabenu II, the Executive Director of Penplusbytes said: “We are excited that we are able to reach a number of West African countries with our innovations aimed at providing citizens with tools they need to monitor and delivery of key public services.

“This is important because it contributes to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well,” he said.

Penplusbytes is a not-for-profit organization driving change through innovations in three key areas: Using new digital technologies to enable good governance and accountability, New media and innovations, and Enhancing media oversight for effective utilisation of mining, oil and gas revenue and resources.

OSIWA is active in 10 African countries including Ghana, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

It focuses on law, justice and human rights, and economic and political governance to pursue the development of open societies by supporting and building partnerships with local and regional groups that promote inclusive democratic governance, transparency and accountability, and active citizenship.

Meanwhile, “Hack4Citizens” training has ended in Cotonou for 20 participants from Benin and Togo under the guidance of facilitators like Mr Gérard Guèdègbé and Mr Jerry Sam.