Whose company is it?
Nine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) implementing countries in the Anglophone and Lusophone region of Africa met in Abuja in early November to plan for the implementation of beneficial ownership (BO) disclosures. At the center of the discussion was the painstaking process of planning how to reveal who stands behind oil, gas and mining companies. Ben Mellor, the UK DFID country representative to Nigeria, underlined that the recipe for successfully taking transparency and accountability to the next level comes when genuine political commitments are taken to tackle big issues such as beneficial ownership.
The meeting reaffirmed the need for implementing countries to collaborate with various government agencies which are already working in areas related to money laundering and illicit financial flows. This approach will help accelerate the reforms needed to mainstream the EITI process in government systems while strengthening the collaboration between the EITI and key government agencies. For instance, Zambia EITI and the Ministry of Mines are working together on developing a country website that will host all mining related information for the country’s mining sector. This will help in bridging the information gap between the mining industry and other stakeholders in the sector. It is hoped that the website will complement EITI efforts of ensuring that timely and reliable information is available to the public in order to stimulate informed public discussions.
The Nigerian model
Implementing countries were accorded an opportunity to draw lessons from the Nigerian process and model. Before the regional workshop, there was with a full day consultation by the Nigerian EITI (NEITI) on developing a roadmap on beneficial ownership disclosure. Kayode Fayemi, Chairman of the NEITI Board and Minister of Solid Minerals and Development, told delegates the consultation was a forum to share ideas on the development of beneficial ownership disclosures, which aligns with President Muhammadu Buhari’s three-point agenda of fighting corruption, growing the economy and tackling insecurity.
Embedding the EITI
Other topics for discussion at the regional workshop included Validation, mainstreaming and open data to improve accessibility and comparability of the EITI data. It was evident that mainstreaming is already happening in one form or another in most implementing countries’ government systems. Good examples were Sierra Leone and Liberia’s Online repositories, where all data pertaining to mineral rights and related revenues are being published. Another example was Ghana EITI’s online data portal, where production and revenue figures over time can be visualised and easily downloaded in various formats.
The workshop had a number of highlights including an evening of Nigerian cuisine, music and a lot of dancing. Like much traditional dance in Africa, the Nigerian dance performance occurred collectively rather than individually reminding us that we need all relevant actors on board if we want to reveal who stands behind the companies. Following the Nigerian model, many implementing countries will organise a stakeholder consultation by the end of this year.
For more information on the regional training and workshop materials, please visit the workshop webpage or www.twitter.com/EITIorg or www.facebook.com/EITIorg. For phots from the workshop can be viewed on Flickr.
Ian Mwiinga is the Communications officer in the Zambia EITI secretariat