Thursday, 11 July 2013

Africa catching up with transparency

On July 1st the African Development Bank published data to the International Aid Transparency detailing activities in their public and private sector becoming, according to IATI, the first multilateral development bank to provide a thorough level of detail in IATI data.
Enhancing disclosure procedures and implementing them is a point more for Africa in the path of transparency. Although this disclosure pertains only to the realm of international aid, it is evident that the effects of the international community's influence to trigger implementation of transparent practices is great, maybe far greater than other influencing factors like governments' particular interest in openness and media and/ or civil society's pressure.
While Africa is doing well in the transparency path (legally speaking) it is still behind other continents in the world. In the campaign finance realm for example, in terms of percentages, of the 57% countries in the world possessing campaign finance transparency laws, Africa ranks last with 50% of the continent (23 countries) having some kind of disclosure policy regarding campaign finance. Europe ranks the highest with 70.5% (31 countries), followed by Asia with 67.7% (27 countries), the Americas with 50% (17 countries) and Oceania with 50% (7 countries).
The new initiative to abide by international transparency standards, therefore, has the potential of being replicated in areas other than development money. If adjusted to the realm of campaign finance, for example, it could lead to a more uniform transparency practice in the country, and could very well pave the road for a standardized practice of transparency at the global level.
What are the standards promoted by IATI and how is transparency understood by them? transparency is "the disclosure of regular, detailed, timely information." Though "comprehensibility" is not mentioned, the three principles mentioned in IATI's Accra statement are still a solid base to build and promote transparency and definitely have the potential to become customary law with time.
The step undertaken by the ADB is positively one that strengthens global notions of accountability and categorically is a step towards the consolidation of integrity at the global level.

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