Reflecting on a decade of democratic strengthening in Ghana

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Reflecting on a decade of democratic strengthening in Ghana

October 27th, 2020

In October 2020, Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) held an event in Ghana to mark the successful completion of the current WFD programme in the country. It was an occasion to reflect on ten years of programmes to strengthen democracy in the country.

WFD nurtured the new generation of Ghanaian leaders through its Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy programme, training more than 3,000 students in democratic principles and skills. The programme supported and established Youth Parliaments all over the country and worked with young Ghanaian men and women to help them become more skilled in democratic debate and deliberation.

people sitting in a lecture hall, with two people at the front

Students parliamentarians in a mock Parliamentary session during a visit from Phillip Parham, UK Commonwealth Envoy

Our Inclusive and Accountable politics programme helped build stronger links between the Parliament of Ghana and its people. Following WFD activities such as technical support for developing action plans, roundtable meetings and capacity-building sessions, the Parliament has included representatives of civil society organisations on its Parliamentary Committees. This has increased the level of public participation in MPs’ gathering of information, not to mention the making and assessing of the laws of the land. Moreover, the Parliament has committed to more regular engagement with civil society representatives as it moves forward with its Open Government Partnership actions, as well as developing a youth engagement strategy.

What is more, WFD helped to support the development of the Inter-Departmental Research and Information group (IDRIG) in the Parliament of Ghana, which improved the coordination of research and information within the legislature. Timely access to accurate information is essential for MPs to be able to carry out their responsibilities well. That the IDRIG has since received funding from the African Development Bank to provide a digital research and information service to MPs is testament to the success and promise of the initiative.

Ghana research group visiting Northern Ireland

Members of the the Inter-Departmental Research and Information group (IDRIG) on an exchange in Northern Ireland in 2016

Looking back, WFD is proud to note the collective achievements made through the engagement of parliamentarians, young people and civil society with WFD programmes. As WFD Chief Executive Anthony Smith said, “we feel very clearly the example that Ghana continues to set in the 21st century for all of Africa and for the world. Your commitment to democracy to free, fair elections to the rule of law to media freedom, and to rights for individuals and civil society are critically important not just for you as a country, but for all of us.”

Yet, as all those who are committed to supporting democracy well know, we can never say “job done”. Democracies change and grow alongside their people. That flexibility is their greatest asset. Ghana – like the rest of the world – is facing challenges that must be met with democracy. And, like elsewhere, the task of strengthening democracy in Ghana is ongoing.

In addition to the programme’s successes, the rich legacy of a decade of WFD work in Ghana includes a wealth of local knowledge and relationships which WFD retains within our regional African programmes and those in the rest of the world.

For more information about working with WFD in Ghana, please contact WFD’s Regional Director for Africa, Zoe Oliver-Watts.

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