The Regional Offices of the Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC) concurrently engaged Non-State Actors (NSAs) and other public bodies in Mid–December 2019 to brief them about the tremendous effort made by the Commission in creating the enabling environment for public access to information in the regions. This development was in connection with the establishment of data resource centers by the Commission in the four regional offices with support from the World Bank through the Public Financial Management Improvement Consolidation Project (PFMICP). The regional data resource centers were furnished with reading materials, computers and internet facilities.
The main objective of the Regional Data Resource Centers, according to the Chairman and Information Commissioner of the RAIC, Dr. Ibrahim Seaga Shaw, is to broaden public awareness of the mandate of the Commission and to help members of the public in those parts of the country access information that has been proactively disclosed by public authorities.
In one of such engagements held at the Eastern Regional Office of RAIC at 22 Turay street in Kenema City on Thursday, December 5, 2019, Eastern Regional Commissioner Mary Wuyatta Karimu briefed NSAs about the creation of the data resource center, its availability to the public at no cost and its importance in increasing public knowledge about the operations of state institutions. The message hammered by the Regional Commissioner East was transparency and accountability in public management as the main reason for the creation of the regional data center. The public engagement event, which was chaired by the Eastern Regional Coordinator of the Non-State Actors, Mr. Lansana Koroma, attracted forty-five NSAs representing a diverse range of civil society organisations in the eastern region.
To ensure the full realization of the Northern Regional Data Resource Centre located in the RAIC Northern Regional Office on Magbanta Road in Makeni City, Regional Commissioner North, Abubakarr Kargbo led the development of a plan that targeted a host of organizations including the Anti-Corruption Commission, NaCSA, SLAJ, Bombali District Council and Civil society organisations.
These groups were primarily sensitized about the data centre at a special public engagement with NSAs event held on December 11, 2019, at the Northern Regional office in Makeni City to inturn complement the effort of the Commission in increasing public knowledge about the center in the other parts of the North and North West Region. The mandate of the Commission and the objective of the resource center were fundamental to this public engagement with NSAs organized by the RAIC Northern Regional Office.
The RAIC Southern Regional Office headed by Commissioner Yormah Biah Idriss also received in audience different government bodies and NSAs at a special public engagement event on December 11, 2019, held at the Southern Regional Office in Bo City and brought out to them the reason for the creation of this Regional Data Resource Center. The key message delivered by the Southern Regional Commissioner in the regional office’s engagements with these organizations was the need for people to have unfettered access to information so as to broaden their horizon on the operations of their leaders and elected representatives. To him, the regional data center is a source of human empowerment which is a critical hallmark of good governance.
The Western Regional Data Resource Centre, on the other hand, was inaugurated in the final quarter of 2019. Its inaugural ceremony attracted state institutions, civil society organizations, the media, representatives from the World Bank, local and development partners. Dr. Ibrahim Seaga Shaw described the ceremony a dream come true as the Commission has been working very hard to ensure that it has the western area data center up and running but had challenges with logistics and space. Western Regional Commissioner, Yeama Sarah Thompson threw insights on the importance of the center, its cardinal objective and available resources. What came out clearly was the role of the data center to enhance performance and improve efficiency in public service and making governments more open, accountable and responsive to citizens.
In his general summation, the RAIC Chairman and Information Commissioner informed that given the current size of the Western Resources center, the Commission is considering in future the relocation of the center to a more spacious place to meet the growing demand in respect of its utilization; adding, more efforts will be made to expand and sophisticate the other data centers in the provinces for broader public utilization.