The Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. Theo Nicol on Thursday March 3, 2016 at the weekly press briefing held in the Ministry’s conference hall in Freetown disclosed to journalists that Sierra Leone will join other countries in the world to commemorate “World Open Data Day” on March 5, 2016.
Welcoming the press, he revealed that after the commemoration of World Data Day, the country will host a festival called “Open Data Festival”, on 21st – 22nd April, 2016. The event he said is being put together by the Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC), Ministry of Information and Communications and several other partners that form the Open Data Council. These activities are all parts of the preparation in making sure that the country host its first open data festival.
The Executive Secretary Right to Access Information Commission, Mr. Kwame Yankson also dilated on reasons for the celebration of the festival, which also gives the opportunity for people to show case data in different institutions. Ministries, Department and Agencies would demonstrate to the public what they have as a data and how to access those data.
He further informed the press that the festival is an awareness raising programme about the existence of the Right to Access Information, and also enables the public to know their rights to access information that belongs to them. “Information that is in the hands of public authority belongs to the citizen” he said. People, he reiterated cannot access information until they know it is their right to access it.
Commenting on the procedure to access information, any citizen he said is required to apply to the institution that he or she wants the information from, adding that the individual should identify him or herself giving out the name and contact and how the person want the information to be given. He said upon given all that is required from that individual, there will be a grace period of 15 days for the information to be supplied, pointing out that if that institution fails to provide the information till the grace period ends, the citizen seeking that information should make a report to the Commission for necessary action.
He maintained that the “Open Data Festival” will enhance effective collaboration with the private sector and public institutions, know each other’s roles and responsibilities and how to utilize them to achieve their needs.
Making his remarks, the Outreach Coordinator in the Office of the Government Spokesman, Mr. Abdulai Bayraytay spoke about current activities of the government and recalled the recent visit of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in Bo City where he expressed satisfaction over the performance and work of the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO).
He also disclosed that President Koroma was also honoured and given the task to commission sixteen blocks of completed facilities for the military, equipped with electricity. The power supply he said, will not only benefit the military barracks but the entire Gondama community in Bo.