The Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC) will host the 2026 International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC) in Freetown. The disclosure was made at the 2024 ICIC Conference held from 3rd to 5th June 2024 in Albania.

Speaking at this year’s ICIC Conference following the announcement, Dr. Ibrahim Seaga Shaw, the Chairman and Information Commissioner of RAIC expressed appreciation to the global information commissioners’ network for choosing Sierra Leone to host the 2026 edition of the Conference, while assuring colleague information commissioners of a successful engagement in Sierra Leone.

“I bring you greetings from Sierra Leone from the Right to Access Information Commission. On behalf of the commission [the RAIC) and my country [Sierra Leone], I want to extend my appreciation to the Executive Committee and the ICIC 2026      Host Evaluation Committee for approving Sierra Leone as the next venue to host the 17th edition of ICIC Conference in 2026,” he said.

He noted that the bar has been raised high, considering what happened in Albania and in other previous host nations. “It is a big challenge but I can assure you that we are ready and prepared to take up the challenge,” Commissioner Shaw assured.

On the proposed topic for ICIC 2026, Dr. Shaw cited that they have identified “The Digital Space and Access to Information as an Enabler of Human Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals,” as a suitable topic, while calling for suggestions from other members of the Conference.

To plan well ahead of the ICIC 2026, RAIC chief noted that he has accepted the invitation from Germany – the host for ICIC 2025 – to be part of their organizing committee to gain valuable knowledge and experience which may be essential to make the Conference in Sierra Leone a success, and that the German Information Commissioner has also accepted his invitation to join the Organising Committee for ICIC 2026

“We have a lot in store for you. I don’t want to pre-empt anything; I just want to probably surprise you,” he told the Conference members. He disclosed that Sierra Leone is often described as the Alcapone of Africa for its beautiful white sandy beaches hardly seen in other parts of the world.

He described the ICIC’s movement as a fraternity that shares common values and goal to steadily enhance access to information worldwide, drawing experience from countries that have hosted the Conference.

The RAIC boss encouraged non-members of ICIC, especially those in Africa, to join and be part of the movement to enhance good governance, human rights, transparency and accountability through timely, easy and quality access to information, adding that hosting the conference in Sierra Leone would boost the membership of the global network, especially from French speaking countries.

This is the first time such high-powered conference is hosted in the whole of West Africa, and the second time in Africa, the first being in 2019 in South Africa. “This is a great development as information commissioners across the world would gather in Sierra Leone to discuss issues and map out solutions and plans geared toward promoting, protecting and popularizing access to information,” Dr. Shaw told Expo Times in a brief phone interview. 

The ICIC Executive Committee provided information on how the decision was finally reached to approve Sierra Leone to host the 2026 ICIC conference by explaining that from March 14 to April 11, 2024, the authorities that are members of the Evaluation Panel reviewed the proposals, considering the applicant authority’s experience in organizing events with an international component, the proposed venue, accommodation options, and financing.

The Evaluation Committee identified some opportunity areas in its experience as an organizer of international events, logistical information, and the issue of financing, and so on April 18, 2024, the Executive Committee agreed to send the comments and request for additional information to the Right to Access Information Commission of Sierra Leone. On April 19, 2024, the ICIC Secretariat sent to the Right to Access Information Commission of Sierra Leone the comments of the Evaluation Panel and the request for additional information regarding its application to host the 17th ICIC Edition ICIC.

On May 9, 2024, the ICIC Secretariat received the additional information from the Right to Access Information Commission of Sierra Leone. On May 9, 2024, the ICIC Secretariat sent the additional information to the members of the Evaluation Panel. In this regard, the ICIC Secretariat received the final and positive comments to accept the application of the RAIC in Sierra Leone to host the 2026 global conference/

Since Dr. Ibrahim Seaga Shaw took up office in 2018, access to information from public authorities in Sierra Leone has improved significantly, making RAIC one of the top performing public agencies in the country. Access to information has also been digitalized and the public awareness to access information has heightened, all under the leadership of Dr. Ibrahim Seaga Shaw.


 

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