International Day for Universal Access to Information marked in Accra

This year’s International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) was marked in Accra last Friday with assurance by government to invest in world class communication infrastructure to drive sustainable development.

It was held on the theme, ‘’Access to Information – leaving no one behind!’’

In a keynote address, the Deputy Minister of Communications, Mr Vincent Sowah Odotei, said the ministry would facilitate the development of reliable and cost-effective world class communication infrastructure and services driven by appropriate technological innovation that would make accessibility less difficult. 

He said the ministry had also established the linkage between access to information and freedom of speech in its policies and programmes, saying, “We are working in tandem with the Ministry of Information to realise the vision of the President to make sure right to information and freedom of expression, leading to an open and accessible internet line-up with government initiatives.’’

Mr. Odotei said the ministry had endorsed the conduct of Internet University Indicators (IUI’s), a frame work developed by United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to access the universality of the internet, adding that inclusive access to information and digital equity was their hallmark over the years to address regional imbalance.

He said improving public access to information helped to build their trust and cooperation between government and citizens, thereby allowing the citizens to exercise and claim their rights, hold duty-bearers accountable, reduce corruption and make more informed choices that affect their daily lives.

Mrs. Nicola Nana Yaa Hodasi, the Political and Economic Affairs officer at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, a partner in advocacy and supporting Access to Information (ATI), said in order to hold government accountable, information was crucial, saying, “Only well-informed citizens can ask the right questions, voice their concerns and demand action.’’

She said access to information was key to promoting transparency and accountability, which were the sustaining pillars to good governance, adding the prerequisite of effective access to information depended on data and its usage in the process.

Mr. Abdourahamane Diallo, Head of Office and Representative of UNSECO to Ghana, delivering a message from Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, said the universal access to information was a fundamental human right that plays a pivotal role in empowering citizens, facilitating fair debate and giving equal opportunities to all.

Ms. Azoulay said it was the driving force for transparent accountable and effective governance which paved way for freedom of expression, cultural and linguistic diversity and participation in the public life.

She said UNESCO continued to play a leading role in building inclusive knowledge societies through the promotion of freedom of expression, media development and universal access to information, adding that the organisation was responsible for monitoring vital issues in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 16 and 10, which called for ensuring public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms.