Citizen engagement is based on the belief that people should have a say in the decisions that affect their lives.
Governance for Africa has three different levels of public involvement in decision making. Moving from more passive to more active forms of public involvement, they include:
- Public communication: GFA disseminates information from the governments to the public.
- Public consultation: through the governments appeal GFA to leads techniqally to seek for public input on a specific policy issue, having provided the public with information on the concern. Public consultation methods include public meetings, public opinion polls, public hearings, focus groups, referenda, etc.
- Public participation: Governance for Africa leads the exchange of information between the public and government, involving dialogue. The purpose of the interaction is to transform the opinions of both parties into informed judgments. Public participation methods include citizen juries, citizens’ panels, consensus conferences, deliberative polls, citizens’ dialogues, etc.
Citizen engagement has become the ‘new’ public participation. Its purpose is to replace token participation with more deliberative means of ongoing engagement. Citizen engagement gives greater emphasis to information and power sharing, mutual respect and reciprocity between citizens and their government than do more traditional methods of involving the public in decision making.