Parliaments must leverage modern information and communications technologies to radically improve the quality of services, as well as access to all Parliamentary documents and activities in order to promote transparency, accountability and democratic participation thus strengthening the democracies of Africa.
It is in this context, that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have the potential to improve existing processes, increase efficiency, reduce costs and deliver new services to Members of Parliament and Parliamentary administration. At the same time this makes parliaments more accessible to citizens and improves participation , fostering transparency, accountability and good governance.
Internet and ICTs have an unprecedented potential to reduce the information gap between the Legislature and the electorate. ICTs can change the way Parliaments and constituents interact. The emergence of new forms of civic engagement online brings the opportunity and the challenge to reconsider the manner in which Parliaments make themselves visible online. An empowered citizenry can discourage corruption and increase accountability. ICTs provide Parliaments with a unique opportunity to earn the public’s trust and support. The transformative potential of free and open access to parliamentary information cannot thus be underestimated.
The overall goal of Bungeni is to improve information management in parliaments; whilst also providing citizens with easy and effective access to parliamentary works and activities. It aims at ensuring that citizen participation is:
- facilitated by making it easier for the citizens to access information and scrutinise parliamentary activities through providing access to a full record of debates in the parliaments; details of issues under debate; and all bills before parliament.
- broadened by opening up new channels for communication to encourage involvement by people who, due to their being located far from parliament or being unable to participate via traditional means like meetings, political parties etc. may now have opportunities to use new technologies to make their voices heard.
- deepened by increasing the connection between citizens and parliaments will be strengthened by providing tools that increases dialogue between citizens and their elected representatives on issues that concern them.