The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) yesterday officially launched the Sierra Leone chapter of OSIWA and formally opened its country office. The launching was done by the Minister of State in the Vice President’s office; Leonard Balogun Koroma and was followed by a consultative meeting to assess the impact of changes in Transparency and Accountability in Sierra Leone.
The meeting which was held at Taia Hotel at Lumley Beach Road attracted members of Civil Society Organizations, the Deputy Mayor of Freetown City Council; Gibril Kanu, and a host of other representatives from the public and private institutions across the country.
In her welcome address the Executive Director of OSIWA, Dr Nana Tanko said the presence of OSIWA in Sierra Leone is to help its partners particularly civil society organizations to take leadership roles in ensuring transparency and accountability in government activities.
Giving a background of OSIWA the Executive Director explained that the Open Society Initiative for West Africa is part of a global network of autonomous Soros Foundation and the Open Society Institute (OSI).She further underscored that OSIWA seeks to collaborate with advocacy groups, like-minded foundations, governments and donors. They are currently present in all the fifteen states in West Africa as well as Cameroon, Chad and Mauritania.
Issues discussed at the meeting included the need for greater transparency and credibility in the electoral processes, justice and security institutions transparency, accountability and reform, the role of civil society in stimulating transparency and accountability in governance, parliamentary and political accountability, corruption and sustainable development, poverty and non-realization of social and economic progress.
The newly appointed country Coordinator of OSIWA in Sierra Leone; Dilis Thompson said civil society organizations, including the media and other oversight institutions have become key components of the transparency and accountability leading to greater demobilization processes.
She however stated that most of these organizations and institutions lack the necessary capacity and legitimacy to make real impact on the process. She expressed optimism that in the next few years there will be substantial progress in many areas in Sierra Leone and OSIWA will continue to act as an agent of change.
By William Freeman