Improving Governance through Access to Information in Africa

Access to information (ATI) is now recognized as a fundamental and universal human right as well as a cornerstone to good governance and the fight against corruption. At present, however, only five African countries have access to information laws: South Africa (2000), Angola (2002), Zimbabwe (2002), Uganda (2006), and Ethiopia (2010). South Africa was the first African country to enact an ATI law and that law is regarded as quite progressive. Others with laws on the books are less so: in Zimbabwe the ATI law restricts information flow while Angola, Uganda and Ethiopia lack the resources, capacity or commitment to fully implement and enforce their laws.

Recent experience suggests that despite obstacles, many citizens and local organizations in Africa area able to access information even in the absence of an ATI law. Environmental justice advocates have, for example, used constitutional provisions, environmental and natural resource laws, regional declarations, international accords, and other instruments to access information. Such sectoral efforts have contributed to a groundswell of demand for a comprehensive ATI law and other systemic reforms consistent with democratic governance, including the infrastructure of transparency.

This grant will allow the World Resources Institute to partner with the Centre for Democratic Development in Ghana, Greenwatch in Uganda, and the Open Democracy Advice Centre in South Africa to better understand transparency models and lessons learned from ATI practice in other African countries, with a focus the environmental sector. Project outputs will include country reports, two comparative research reports, various capacity building outreach and activities.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Saturday, January 1, 2011

End Date

Monday, July 1, 2013


24 months

IDRC Officer

Nijhawan, Tavinder

Total funding

CA$ 503,000


South of Sahara, Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa


Networked Economies

Project Leader

Peter G. Veit


World Resources Institute

Institution Country

United States

Institution Website