The Afrobarometer-led and EU-funded project Data for Governance Alliance’s second stakeholders training on governance, democracy, and human rights opened Monday in Cape Town, South Africa.
The week-long workshop brings together pan-African civil society organisations (CSOs) and participants from four African Union organs – the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), the Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), and the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC). Data for Governance Alliance partners and Charter Project Africa representatives are also attending.
The theme for this year’s convening is “Enhancing governance, democracy, and human rights in Africa: Empowering pan-African civil society to effectively use data to enhance advocacy.”
Standing in for Professor Eldred Masunungure, political campaigns expert Glen Mpani said in his keynote address: “Data cannot lie idle. In fact, we need to think of a way of having [Afrobarometer] data taught in primary school. If we are now teaching kids to code, why can’t we teach kids an understanding of numbers and what they mean?”
Mpani’s speech focused on the centrality of promoting data-driven approaches for evidence-based policy making on the continent. He also noted the essential role of political parties, saying, “Power lies in political parties. Political parties play a very central role in governance. They decide who governs us, and they shape policy. But unfortunately, we invest very little in them.”
Reflecting on the crucial role of the African Union in conversations on governance, democracy, and human rights in Africa, Cheryl Hendricks, executive director of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, told the gathering, “The AU should lead the difficult conversations about leadership, rule of law, and the future of participation in our changing world.” Hendricks also featured in the line-up of speakers.
Thirty-five participants are taking part in this year’s training. Following the meeting in Cape Town, the Data for Governance Alliance plans to convene in Accra for the next stakeholders’ training before heading to Nairobi to close off this year’s round of workshops.
Last year, 42 CSO representatives received practical training on accessing and using data and information tools during three regional workshops in Ghana, South Africa, and Kenya hosted by the Data for Governance Alliance.
Describing the Data for Governance Alliance, Nyasha McBride Mpani, project coordinator for Southern Africa, said, “The Data for Governance Alliance project is a guiding light for informed and engaged African citizens. It plays a crucial role in closing gaps, empowering citizens in democracy and human rights, and promoting collaboration among citizens, CSOs, and AGP member institutions.”