“Festus from Ghana uses money from the artisanal and small-scale mining to send his son to university. However, he will remain indebted for the rest of his life to the money lender who helped him start his career.”
Understanding small scale and artisanal mining
Common estimates suggest that up to 13 million people are employed in artisanal and small scale mining (ASM). Some sources suggest that over 2 million operate in the DR Congo alone. In fact, no one really knows. The data is sparse, unreliable, and all over the place. The sector is complex, inconsistent, often corrupt and criminal. Information on the institutional governance, the licensing process, the commodities, the sites, actors, the interventions between the formal and informal sectors, the employment and dependents, production and exports, routes of transport, the fiscal regime, the revenues, and any local or special spending, the environmental and health and safety aspects, could be useful. Some of all of this might be collected through the EITI.
In countries like the Central African Republic and Burundi, ASM is the dominant element of the mining sector. In Cote d’Ivoire and the DR Congo, they are vast and important sectors.
Representatives from 17 African countries (16 of which are implementing the EITI and Burundi has committed to do so) attended a workshop on how the EITI process can help good governance in the ASM sector co-hosted by the World Bank, the Government of the DR Congo and the EITI International Secretariat. The EITI process provides a platform for strengthening the government systems to collect and improve the quality of this data, to get the data interoperable with other government data, to build a platform for dialogue and to build trust. Experience were shared amongst the countries as well as tools for data collection and storage, and how the information could link and layer with other efforts in the sector.
It was noted that a lot of initiatives exist for data collection in the sector. However, for most the EITI provided a strong platform to go beyond numbers, to strengthen government systems and link and layer with other government data, and to provide a platform in the form of the national multi-stakeholder groups to agree the information and discuss safely and openly the policy implications.
The World Bank and the EITI International Secretariat will now develop a guidance note on how the EITI can inform good governance in the sector.
Meeting of the executive committee of EITI DRC
The Executive Committee of EITI DRC met this afternoon to discuss the 2015-2017 workplan, a new communications strategy and the scope for the 2013 EITI Report which is due to be published by end of June. Members of the EITI Board and national coordinators from the region were invited to observe the meeting.
The workplan required further revisions and would be presented to the committee at its next meeting. The Independent Administrator presented the scope of the 2013 EITI Report. Questions were raised with regards to data reliability, the approach for disclosing beneficial ownership and the inclusion of forestry in the report.
The meeting ended with an exchange between the Executive Committee and the EITI Board. Board members congratulated DRC for the progress made. Marinke Van Riet from PWYP asked about the inclusion of transparency provisions in the mining law. Minister of Mines and Chair of the MSG, Martin Kabwelulu, explained that transparency had not been a priority for the government in 2002 when the mining law was enacted. Rather the country was emerging from civil war and the main preoccupation was to get the mining sector back on track. However, legal reforms were now underway. The study on artisanal mining commissioned by the Executive Committee was also discussed.
Not repeating the mistakes from the past
How much is exploited and how much is left? How can we better understand the numbers in the EITI Report? What is the impact of the EITI for the people of our country?
These were some of the questions that the students at the Congo Protestant University wanted to know the answers to during the discussions that took place when Board members visited Thursday morning. Hosted by Rector Prof. Mgr. Ngoy-Boliya, some 300 students including members of the DYJET EITI-CLUB filled the auditorium to the brink, eager to present their thoughts and questions.
The DYJET EITI-CLUB is a youth club created in 2011 aimed at engaging youth in analysis about the extractive sector and building capacity of youth to engage in debates about how the country's natural resources are governed. To illustrate this, the conference opened with a short theatre piece highlighting the crucial role that students as members of civil society can play in critiquing the data in EITI reports and holding the government to account for the implementation of recommendations resulting from EITI implementation.
On behalf of the students, Muela Lubeki Junior highlighted the challenges that the country has faced and the role of his generation in making sure that mistakes of the past are not repeated. The students asked questions ranging from the reliability of figures disclosed through the EITI, the governance structure of the EITI process, the need to translate EITI Reports into concrete stories accessible to the broader public, and the challenges of translating transparency into greater accountability.
EITI Chair Clare Short reminded the students of the large responsibility that rests on their shoulders as well as the enormous potential reward of engaging in this debate now for the benefit of future generations.