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GIJN Africa: Access to Public Records

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In a considerable number of Sub-Saharan African countries, access to public information is a nightmare even today, as there are no laws that support records requests from journalists or require government officials to turn over public records that the state possesses.

However, some countries have turned the corner and have made access to public information much easier. Below are a few of the best resources that are available for journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa who seek public information in countries with laws governing access to information.

AfricaAfrica Freedom of Information Centre is one of the only Africa-wide resources on a continent with few laws governing access to information. It provides information on FOI laws in Africa.

IFEX has a good overview of the expansion of FOI laws in Africa, including some of the problems faced in implementation.

Kenya: Reporting on Good Governance in describes the national and local laws and rules for access to information and also publishes reports on journalists’ experiences. Good graphics, too. Also see a handbook on the Kenyan law developed by the Katiba Institute.

Liberia: InfoLib provides an online mechanism to facilitate FOI requests. Although it’s an independently run service, it can be found under the “Take Action” tab on the website of the Liberian information commission.

Mozambique: Guia do Direito à Informação Para Jornalistas, a 2016 guide to FOI for journalists was prepared by IREX.

Nigeria: R2KNigeria provides solid information about the FOI law. The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has FOI portal for making online requests. The Bureau of Public Service Reforms has FOI portal, too. The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project in April 2018 published a manual: Using Your Right to Information to Challenge Corruption in the Health, Education and Water Sectors.

Rwanda: Sobanukirwa is a free site facilitating requests, available in EnglishKinyarwanda or French.

South Africa: The Open Democracy Advice Centre provides forms for requesting documents under the Promotion of Access to Information Act, and provides assistance. Right2Know is a major transparency advocacy group. ODAC provides assistance on the right of access to information available under the Promotion of Access to Information.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa also has a page with links to the African FOI laws.

Uganda: Ask your Gov Uganda is an online FOI request portal where users can make direct FOI requests to government institutions. The site also posts answers publicly to those requests.

For more on access to public records, go to our global resources on freedom of information laws.

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