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More Africa states join the global extractives transparency initiative

afrol News, 18 May - Three African countries have today been accepted to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Board (EITI) raising the number of African states implementing the extractive programme to over 20 of 30 in total.

Announcing their acceptance today, EITI said four new countries have been added as candidates, being Albania, Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Zambia.

Other African countries signed to the programme are Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, São Tomé e Príncipe, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania.

"With these four new candidates, 30 countries are now implementing the EITI process, further bolstering EITI as the standard for transparent management of revenues from the oil, gas and mining sectors," EITI said in a statement today.

The World Bank Director for Oil, Gas, and Mining, Somit Varma, said: “I am encouraged that more countries from Africa and other regions of the world are joining the EITI process and recognising the benefits of greater transparency in the extractive industries sector. It is, however, only when countries take full ownership of this voluntary initiative that it can succeed. The World Bank is committed to supporting governments in this effort.”

The EITI Board, the global initiative to improve transparency in the extractives sector, held a series of meetings with diverse stakeholders in Washington DC, hosted by the World Bank Group. There are presently ten donor countries and the European Commission currently providing funding to the World Bank-administered EITI Multi-donor Trust Fund (MDTF) - Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the European Commission.

According to the World Bank, Finland just joined as a donor country, and the United States and Switzerland will be joining the donor group soon.

The World Bank has been a supporter of the EITI since the early days, and this Trust Fund provides technical assistance for implementation of the EITI process in developing countries.

During last week the EITI held a series meetings, where amongst others themes such as the mechanism for external Quality Assurance of EITI implementation in the country as well as March 2010 deadline for the EITI candidate countries to complete EITI Validation were discussed.

The need for support of countries’ efforts to go through the Validation process was reiterated by the EITI Board Chairman, Dr Peter Eigen, who also said: “By committing to the EITI and undergoing an independent EITI Validation, governments and companies demonstrate their commitment to openness, transparency and good governance. It is impressive to see all the efforts in EITI implementing countries to prepare for Validation and meet the EITI standard. The international community recognises such efforts and supports these governments and their stakeholders in their implementation of the EITI”.

Since it was put forward in 2002 the EITI has moved towards becoming the global standard for revenue transparency in the extractive industries. Through implementing the EITI, countries bring together companies, civil society and government representatives to monitor and account for payments being made to governments by extractives companies operating in their country. Countries that have met all of the reporting and operational indicators set out under the EITI guidelines and completed a rigorous validation process are then considered to be EITI Compliant, establishing that a country's revenue reporting standards in its extractive sector have achieved a greater level of transparency.

The EITI is a coalition of governments, companies, civil society groups, investors and international organisations, whose secretariat is hosted by the Norwegian government in Oslo and was formally opened on 26 September 2007.

The organisation's objecives are driven by the fact that some 3.5 billion people live in countries rich in oil, gas and minerals and that with good governance the exploitation of these resources can generate large revenues to foster growth and reduce poverty.

The EITI says that however when governance is weak, it may result in poverty, corruption, and conflict. The EITI aims to strengthen governance by improving transparency and accountability in the extractives sector, setting a global standard for companies to publish what they pay and for governments to disclose what they receive.

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