Savana Signatures, an ICT for development (ICT4D) organization in Ghana rolled out a mobile-based governance project dubbed “Mobile for Social Inclusive Governance (MSIG) that seeks to provide an opportunity for women, youth, people living with HIV/AIDS and disability to participate in local governance in Tamale.
MSIG aimed to contribute to enhanced participatory democracy and to promote transparent and accountable governance while at the same time encourage citizen’s participation in planning, budgeting and decision making at the local levels.
It was rolled out with the support from Making All Voices Count.
MSIG was piloted in 2014 in some four district assemblies namely; Tamale Metropolis, Yendi, Wa and Savelugu Municipalities and by December 2014, 2064 persons were already effectively participating in decision making through a mobile phone.
This informed Savana Signatures to roll out the project in five new districts. They include Central Gonja, Sagnarigu, Tolon, Kumbungu, and Gushiegu districts extensively to deepens people’s participation in local governance, enhance human rights and democracy, transparent and accountability and to check bribery, corruption and misuse of resources among other governance issues.
Muhammed Yakubu, a programme manager, explained that MSIG is aimed to increase the participation of youth, women, PLHIV and PWDs in local project planning and budgeting for improved provision of public goods and services at the district levels.
He said MSIG is envisioned to directly and indirectly benefit over 4,500 people. To achieve this, MSIG will engage 20 assembly women and men to mobilize leadership of each of the targeted groups while four local government staff from each district assembly would benefit from training on planning and budgeting.
Yakubu indicated that given the massive penetration of mobile networks, messages sent or received through mobile phones provide a revolutionary channel for sharing information in real-time. He said, MSIG target groups are unable to effectively participate in local governance as a result of their vulnerability and lack of access. “MSIG provides a pathway for them to participate in local governance”, he said.
The Executive Director of Savana Signatures, John Stephen Agbenyo said MSIG provides opportunity for District Assemblies to use a mobile based platform to facilitate communication with their citizens.
MSIG has a platform known as “citizens interactive (CI) platform ” that enables citizens to provide feedback or suggestions that feed into policy planning and decision making of the assembly irrespective of their location, he said.
MSIG makes it easy for assemblies to identify and involve marginalized groups in planning and decision making process.
He said MSIG platform is cost effective and would reduce time, energy and resources use during community mobilization meetings. “MSIG also makes it easier for marginalized groups to access relevant information without having to rely on the assembly members or local government authorities”, he said.
MSIG will be carrying out mobile surveys packaged in local dialects (voice) for effective citizenship engagement to seek the opinion of marginalized groups about development activities while the citizens use the CI platform to voluntarily submit their opinions about development activities to district assemblies by simply dialing a code that would be made available to each beneficiary district soon.