Calls for African Legislatures to Embrace information Technology in their operations dominate CPA Regional Meet
The 50th Annual conference of CPA, Africa Region kicked off today in Zanzibar, Tanzania, with calls on Regional Legislatures to embrace Information technology as a necessary ingredient for advancing Parliamentary democracy, dominating the opening ceremony.
While presiding over the opening ceremony of the conference, the President of Zanzibar and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, H.E Dr Ali Mohammed Shein, noted that by employing the use of Information, Communication and Technology (ICTs), the region and continent would greatly make faster progress in many areas, adding that embracing information technology is a crucial and necessary ingredient for development. He observed that Zanzibar had made good progress in this cause with a fibre optic cable covering total of 140km already laid in the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba to improve internet connectivity. He further revealed that his government had already instituted e-projects in the tourism and health sectors.
He lauded the organisers of the conference for an apt theme that well captures the current global efforts by states to embrace technology not only as a catalyst for development, but also as a means to facilitate the growth of democracy.
“This theme is important and relevant to technological development and global efforts to promote democracy. Embrace of E-Parliament remains a vital step in enhancing legislation, representation and oversight”, H.E. Dr Shein, noted.
The theme for the 50th CPA Africa region conference is : E-Parliament: Seamless Platform for Facilitating Democracy
Dr. Shein also underscored that by embracing information technology, Legislatures and indeed Parliamentarians would be get a platform to closely interact with the people they represent as ICT is a necessary tool for citizen engagement, a key tenet for good governance.
“Through E-Parliament systems, Members can connect to constituencies and the people they represent, and such will enable citizens to present their views and opinions through e-processes thus reduce on costs”, the President said.
The Speaker of the National Assembly who is the Chairperson Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association- the body that coordinates the activities of member states within the region- acknowledged that there has been tremendous advancement in digital technology within the continent, with many governments now offering electronic services, and warned that legislatures would only ignore these developments at their own peril.
"In this age of digital technology and advancement with many online forums, paperless form of operations and provoking online debates, we cannot close the doors of our Parliaments by failing to use E-Parliament. We must be innovate at all times ", remarked Speaker Muturi.
This is the first regional conference for Speaker Muturi to coordinate since his election at the helm of the organisation in Gaborone Botswana.
The Speaker further expressed confidence that the Conference would be a major milestone in the advancement of the region's various legislatures particularly on the issue of information sharing and dissemination through latest forms of technology.
On her part, the Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, Rt. Hon Rebecca Kadaga, who is currently serving as the President of the CPA International took the opportunity to extend invitations to the legislators to the forthcoming 64th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association International Conference slated for Kampala, Uganda, later this month. She noted that Kampala was ready to host the all important event where major decisions on the association are set to be made.
Others who addressed the forum include the Speaker of the Parliament of Tanzania, Rt. Hon.Job Ndugai, the host Speaker, Rt Hon Zubeir Ali of the Zanzibar House of Representatives, the Speaker of EALA, Rt Hon Ngoga Karoli Martin, and Hon. Emilia Monjowa Lifaka, MP, Chairperson of the CPA International Executive Committee and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Cameroon. Hon. Shandana Gulzar Khan, Represented the Speaker of National Assembly of Pakistan.
The forum also saw Gambia express her interest in re-joining the association she ditched in 2015. The Gambia Assembly Speaker, Hon. Mariam Jack -Denton revealed that her Parliament had filed a request which will be considered in Kampala, later this month during the 64th CPA (International) Annual Conference.
Kenya is represented in the forum by the leader of Minority in the National Assembly Hon. John Mbadi, CPA Regional officials; Hon. Muriuki Njagagua, Hon. (Dr.) Makali Mulu, Hon.Janet Sitienei. Others are Hon. Dennitah Ghati, Hon. Ruth Mwaniki, Senator Abshiro Halake, Sen. Issa Juma and Sen. Enoch Wambua.
The 4-day conference, will deliberate on among other key issues, the place of social media in enhancing Parliamentarians' constituency engagements- Kenya will presenting a paper on this; strategies to enable women participation in decision making and the formulation of youth policies as a tool to combat migration.
The CPA Africa Region is one of the nine (9) regional associations of the CPA International. The CPA Africa Region is made up of National Parliaments and Provincial/State/Territorial Legislatures of member countries of the Commonwealth in Africa. The Association is composed of over 180 Branches formed in Legislatures in Commonwealth countries which subscribe to parliamentary democracy.