Gabon returns to the EITI, renewing its commitment to extractives transparency
Following the country’s departure from the EITI process in February 2013, the Government of Gabon has re-committed to implement the EITI. Its application was approved by the EITI Board today, making it the 56th country implementing the EITI Standard, and the 27th in Africa.
“The EITI can help lay the foundation for transparent management of Gabon’s natural resource wealth,” said EITI Board Chair, Helen Clark. “We welcome Gabon back as an implementing country and look forward to working together to promote openness, strengthen governance and inform public debate in Gabon.”
A platform for dialogue grounded on strong commitments
EITI implementation in Gabon brings a unique opportunity to translate transparency commitments into improved governance of the Gabonese extractive sector through a multi-stakeholder approach. Representatives from government, private companies, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and civil society take part in the country’s EITI multi-stakeholder group (MSG) to oversee the sector. They have successfully worked together throughout the EITI candidature process, with support from the IMF and international civil society partners.
In a letter to the EITI, President Ali Bongo noted that “the Gabonese Government intends to respond to the specific context created by a dual health and economic crisis (…) by making significant improvements to its public administration. This includes increased efforts towards transparency in respect of revenues and expenditures from the extractive resources that we exploit.”
The inclusion of an SOE constituency is a unique feature of the Gabon EITI Multi-Stakeholder Group and highlights the commitment of these key players. On behalf of the SOE constituency, Gilles Térence Mba Ella, Advisor of the state-owned Gabon Oil Company (GOC), highlighted that “Gabon’s adherence to the EITI Standard is a catalyst for good governance and transparency in the management of revenues from the extractive sector. The EITI will improve the accountability of public enterprises and their actions to further the economic and social development of the country."
The private sector also intends to play its part. Speaking on behalf of the private sector constituency, General Director of the Chamber of Commerce Danielle Cibelle Biwaou noted that “extractive sector companies, through their representatives on the multi-stakeholder group, support Gabon's membership of the EITI to optimise the transparent management of revenues generated by their respective activities. This process will also allow stakeholders to better understand and be informed about the socio-economic and environmental impacts of our industries in Gabon.”
Finally, EITI implementation provides an opportunity for civil society in Gabon to engage on extractive sector management. On behalf of the civil society constituency, Guy René Mombo Lembomba declared that “implementation of the EITI Standard in Gabon paves the way for a more active and effective civil society for sustainable development and poverty reduction.”
Leveraging public debate for sustainable development
With substantial dependence on oil sector revenues, Gabon will need to plan for future changes in production and maximise revenues for the benefit of citizens. Improvements in the management of public finances can help address urgent financial, development and healthcare needs. Environmental management is a critical issue in the debate on the future of the sector in Gabon, and a key concern for civil society.
By implementing the EITI Standard, Gabon commits to bringing greater transparency across the extractive industries value chain, from contracts, licenses and company ownership to revenue and expenditure management. Publication of this information will be a significant step for Gabon, where open or accessible data on the extractive sector is not yet available.
To this end, the EITI in Gabon has developed an initial plan to improve extractives governance and transparency, with a view to manage the sector in way that promotes inclusive economic growth and sustainable development.
Gabon had formerly joined the EITI in 2007, but had lost its status as an EITI implementing country when it was delisted in February 2013 after failing to submit a Validation report before the agreed deadline.