Ghana’s Justice Minister and Attorney General, Marietta Brew Appiah, has observed that the World Bank Group’s funded Contract Monitoring initiatives are an important tool in contract monitoring and promoting social accountability in West Africa. In a statement at a recent four-day forum of the West African Contract Monitoring Network (WACMN), Madam Appiah stated: “Open governance is delivering tangible benefits around the world – faster growth, better public services, less corruption and less poverty.”
“The results achieved by various coalition members of WACMN are a testimony,” she said. The forum was intended to move the agenda of contract monitoring through a multi-stakeholder regional approach to contract monitoring. It took place in Accra, Ghana. The Network, coordinated regionally by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), brought together 40 country level network members comprising of civil society organizations, the media, public institutions and private companies from Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Participants at the forum addressed the role of communities and media in contract monitoring, information-gathering and feedback in contract monitoring; policy implications of contract monitoring and the role of the West African Contract Monitoring Network in using citizens’ engagement to improve governance. The 4-day forum brought together country-level achievements for increased visibility of the network’s activities, and showcased the project’s impact in addressing the challenges of contract monitoring in the sub-region.
The Ghanaian Justice Minister stressed the importance of social accountability, which is increasingly being recognized as a critical factor in improving development outcomes. Citing the 2004 World Development Report: Making Services Work for Poor People, she emphasized: “citizens’ participation, through consultation about needs, identification of beneficiaries, monitoring and providing feedback on performance improves the quality of public services and governance.”
World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Mr. Yusupha Crookes, said “Establishing effective and robust contract monitoring coalitions would contribute to controlling corruption and ultimately improve public sector efficiency and the delivery of public services.” Mr. Crookes added that the Bank considers stakeholders’ participation and feedback in partnership with governments as a critical factor for effective social and economic development and for poverty reduction, noting: “the forum will provide a valuable platform to highlight the impact of collective action to achieve development outcomes.”
Discussing the topic: “Listening to Citizens: Using Citizens Engagement to Improve Governance Outcome,” Mr. Sahr Kpundeh, World Bank Africa Region Governance and Anti-Corruption Adviser, observed that whistle blowing is the most powerful weapon against fraud. “Governments must take steps to protect and reward whistleblowers; this would ensure that trust is restored to the governance system and reporting corruption does not lead to reprisals,” he stressed.
“The gains of social accountability can be effectively sustained through the participation of a broad based multi-stakeholders – civil society, the media, private sector and government,” said WACMN Project Manager, Beauty Narteh. She then called for support and active participation of all stakeholders in the fight against corruption.
The West African Contract Monitoring Network was initiated by the World Bank in 2010 with US$983,120 Institutional Development Fund (IDF) to establish an effective and robust four multi-stakeholder country level contract monitoring coalition in Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. To date, WACMN has provided broader citizens’ participation and interest in contracting and implementation of projects, and established a regional platform for further collaboration with governments and development partners to improve transparency and accountability in the sub-region.