[Apia, Samoa] – The recent launch of the Beginning of Right to Information (RTI) initiative at The University of the South Pacific (USP) Alafua Campus in Samoa on Wednesday (January 24, 2024) heralds a new era for the Samoa Government as it commits to upholding transparency and informed governance.
This event marks a significant milestone in strengthening the foundations of the RTI movement in Samoa, a move that aligns with global standards of open governance.
The RTI initiative, a collaboration between USP’s School of Information Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & Physics (STEMP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), funded by UK Aid and facilitated by the British High Commission in Suva, Fiji, is a beacon in ‘Strengthening Anti-Corruption, Transparency and Accountability in Pacific Island Countries’ project.
It reflects a commitment to global cooperation in nurturing democratic values in advocating and raising awareness about the value of open data and transparency.
While launching the event, Samoa’s Minister of Education and Culture, Afioga Honourable Seu’ula Ioane Tua’au, underscored the project’s pivotal role in promoting transparency, accountability and empowerment in Samoa.
“The RTI project, initiated in 2021, aimed to educate and empower Pacific communities on the importance of information in shaping decision-making processes. As we gather on this day, we celebrate the progress of the RTI project to meet the unique needs of the Pacific,” stated Hon. Tua’au.
The Hon.Minister further elaborated, “The Right to Information is a basic human right indicating that all information should be made available to members of the public, and the Samoan Government has been working in this area for some years now. The Government ministries have been using ICT to provide government services, communication and information to our people and other interested stakeholders. Through e-governance, information accessibility and availability will enable our people, regardless of gender, to participate equally in the development of our communities and country.”
Similar sentiments were shared by Professor Bibhya Sharma, the RTI Project Lead, who emphasised the project’s multi-faceted approach, including developing an innovative e-course, an informative website, a user-friendly mobile application, and awareness workshops in hybrid mode in the Pacific.
He said, “These innovative tools are designed to enhance information accessibility and facilitate online requests in Samoa and its neighbouring countries, catering to a broad audience including youth, women in business, government officials and community members.”
Mr Gareth Hoar, the British High Commissioner to Samoa, expressed his support for the initiative, emphasising the UK’s commitment to enhancing openness and accountability.
He said, “RTI is an important aspect of holding governments accountable, demonstrating transparency of governance, and tackling corruption. It is these overarching principles, underpinned by a desire to support the set of shared values and similar democratic institutions our two countries share, that attracted my
Government’s support for this project by providing funding through UNDP.”
The Project Co-ordinator, Mr Vineet Singh, reflects on the week’s accomplishments in Samoa; he shares insights into the essence of the RTI movement. “This week in Samoa, we have made significant strides in our RTI initiative, including ongoing stakeholder consultations since December 2023, insightful seminars with
Samoan Information Technology Association (SITA) members, and positively received student workshops,” he said.
Mr Singh also mentioned, “We are enthusiastic about our upcoming community outreach efforts and are committed to conducting a successful RTI campaign in Samoa to improve information accessibility and promote transparency among the Samoan people.”
This initiative marks a significant step in Samoa’s journey towards a transparent and informed society.
For further details on this initiative, please contact email@example.com.