Members of the civil society movement and international organizations have asked the government to consider accelerating access to information by Ugandans.
The call was made during celebrations to mark the international day of access to information organized by the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) in partnership with UNESCO among other partners.
Speaking at the Kampala Serena Hotel, the executive director AFIC Gilbert Sendugwa said that access to information empowers citizens to demand accountability and efficient delivery of services.
He said, “ Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we had earlier on learnt in 2015 from our support by Sida- Sweden in Kenya, Malawi and Uganda that when citizens access information, corruption and inefficiency in the delivery of public services is fought, for example in western Kenya the government had been paying for sanitary pads to help keep girls in schools yet no supply was being made at the grassroots for several years but because of access to information this problem was solved and fixed”.
He added that ” Emerging findings from IDRC funded research project on the barriers to women’s participation in public procurement in Eastern Africa exposed that whereas governments spend up to 65% of national budget annually, the fact is that women-owned enterprises win less than 1% of public contracts and women find difficult to access information on procurement opportunities”
In his remarks, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah called for widening the scope of information coverage especially in rural areas, to transform the lives of ordinary people.
“The fact is where I come from the majority have no access to information even not a smartphone and here we are talking about Facebook, Twitter and so forth like as if that will give access to information to my rural mother, addressing the audience,” Oulanyah said.
Oulanya also explained that ” The state has a responsibility to protect its people in terms of life, property and a state that can’t protect private life, property and information is not worth its name.”
However, he expressed disappointment that despite Uganda enacting the access to information Act in 2005, nothing much has been done to benefit the ordinary people.
The international day for universal access to information was proclaimed by the UN general assembly in October 2019 and since then 28 Sept is celebrated worldwide.