In 2019, the Ghana Audit Service (GAS) launched a mobile application to track the use of public funds — an easy-to-use digital tool to increase transparency and accountability in the public sector. Called the Citizens-Eye, the app allows citizens to rate public service delivery and directly report issues to the Ghana Audit Service.
The Ghanaian experience inspired Kenya’s Office of the Auditor-General (OAG), which is in the process of implementing innovative solutions to empower citizens to contribute to audit processes. Both countries have an ongoing collaboration under the AFROSAI-E framework, which is a network of 26 Auditors-General from English-speaking African countries. However, in the face of similar contexts and common opportunities and challenges, both parties expressed a wish to deepen their exchanges.
With this aim, the African Union — European Union (AU-EU) Digital for Development (D4D) Hub facilitated a study visit for a Kenyan delegation to travel to Ghana and learn from the country’s experiences — in particular regarding the Citizens-Eye app. The activity was led by GIZ, one of the project’s implementing partners, and took place from 16–23 October 2022.
Connecting with citizens through digital tools
Under Kenya’s Constitution, the OAG has the mandate to confirm whether public money has been applied lawfully and in an effective way. This is a broad responsibility that includes enhancing citizen participation to improve accountability in the delivery of public services, reduce corruption, and tackle impunity in governance.
“We believe that for us to impact on the lives and livelihoods of our Kenyan citizens — as espoused in our Strategic Plan — we must interact and build sustainable relations and partnerships with the citizenry”, said Edwin Kamar, Deputy Auditor General.
As part of these efforts, the OAG, in collaboration with development partners such as GIZ, has developed a Citizens Accountability Audit Engagement Framework which provides a setting to boost engagement with citizens. One of the key actions that have been identified in this framework is the establishment of a citizen engagement mobile application.
“This app will be a game changer in the way we engage with the citizens. I believe it will help fight and significantly reduce corruption in our country,” said Kamar.
Beatrice Omari, Communication Director at OAG was also among the participants of the study visit. Her objective was to learn how to communicate with citizens to ensure uptake of the app — an important part of successful implementation.
“I learnt that communication plays a critical role in sensitising and educating the population about the Citizens-Eye app,” she said. “This knowledge will help me develop a communication strategy for the envisioned development of a similar app in Kenya”.
Exchanges at multiple levels
During the study visit, participants attended multiple meetings and exchange sessions with the Ghana Auditor General, leadership and technical officers from the Ghana Audit Service, the European Union Delegation, the Kenya High Commissioner in Ghana, the Ghana Integrity Initiative and Centre for Democratic Development, and GIZ’s office in Ghana (who also supported the development of Citizens-Eye in Ghana). But discussions did not only take place at the strategic level; technical teams from both countries also had the opportunity to do an in-depth review of system specifications.
“I had the opportunity to network with techies from GAS and got to learn a few things about the available emerging technologies that have worked for them. I was amazed at the technology they have implemented: simple to develop, easy to use, maintain and upgrade. The visit has awoken the IT developer in me,” said Ann Njoga, an ICT Officer at OAG.
Collaborating with civil society organisations
Apart from the OAG delegation, representatives from Kenya’s civil society also joined the study visit to build their technical capacity, facilitate their collaboration with the OAG, and learn from GAS’ experience engaging with civil society organisations (CSOs). Fostering partnerships with CSOs is one of the pillars of OAG’s Citizens Accountability Audit Engagement Framework, recognising their unique capacity to strengthen external oversight due to their proximity to public service delivery and citizens who are the target beneficiaries of government programmes, and their ability to use information resulting from monitoring efforts for advocacy actions.
“I shared my experience on the accountability work with the Ghana Audit Service and learned about their own work with CSOs. The visit gave meaning to our experience on citizen accountability audit,” said Titus Gitonga, Programme Coordinator of Public Accountability at Transparency International Kenya. “Furthermore, it allowed us to explore our relationship with the office of the Auditor General of Kenya, which I can say has been enhanced as a result of the study visit.”
Fostering exchanges of knowledge on D4D
The study visit took place in the framework of the AU-EU D4D Hub’s knowledge-sharing activities and was implemented in collaboration with the Strengthening Good Governance Programme of GIZ Kenya. Technical Advisors Kenneth Matiba and Elijah Ambasa provided technical, advisory and coordination support for the activity.
To learn more on how the AU-EU D4D Hub project fosters exchanges of experiences, expertise, and lessons learned between African and European digital stakeholders, visit our website: au-eu.d4dhub.eu