Four years into Senegal’s EITI implementation, it’s important not to lose sight of the forest for the baobab trees
Senegal has led the way in improving the coverage and reliability of its EITI reporting, while seeking to make this information accessible to as broad a cross-section of the public as possible. As EITI Senegal works to integrate this transparency into routine government systems, now is the time to ensure that this information is used to achieve greater accountability and citizen oversight.
From the publication of its first (2013) EITI Report in October 2015, Senegal has moved swiftly from reporting to concrete reforms. The government has reformed the Mining Code, established a presidential committee to reform oil and gas oversight and published the majority of mining, oil and gas contracts signed to date. Drawing on findings of EITI Reports, authorities are also preparing an inter-ministerial decree to clear the backlog in subnational transfers that has built up in the 2010-2016 period.
Integrating transparency in systems
It is not surprising that EITI Senegal’s attention has swiftly moved to integrating EITI reporting into routine government and company systems. It has already led important work on data visualisation. The EITI Senegal website is now a portal for information on the mining, oil and gas sectors. Browsers can already visualise revenues by location for mining and oil and gas, find accessible infographics of complex issues (see for instance the summary 2014 EITI Report ‘Comprendre pour Agir’) and watch video news and documentaries. With surging investor interest in Senegal’s oil and gas sector, its EITI data has used by a broad audience including the media and investment advisors, including ratings agencies such as Moody’s. Senegal’s other data portals, run by the national statistics agency ANSD and on the Open Data For Africa portal, have not traditionally provided much in terms of extractives data.
Having worked with its auditor general, the Cour des Comptes, on ensuring the reliability of its EITI data, Senegal will have Africa’s timeliest EITI data when it publishes its 2015-2016 EITI Reports in October 2017. The Treasury plans reforms in its IT system to enable disaggregation of revenues by taxpayer. EITI Senegal is now working with it to disaggregate extractives revenues within the government’s financial balance sheet (TOFE). This will build on the extractives-specific revenue classification developed by the IMF and EITI (e.g. for 2014), updating it to GFS-2014 standards. These reforms would allow the planned EITI Senegal data portal to address key EITI disclosures online, as Indonesia is doing with its recently-launched data portal.
Use it or lose it
As rich as Senegal’s EITI Reports are, there is potential to drive yet more analysis of financial data and use of documents to empower citizen oversight. A key example is contracts. As an integral part of its initial commitment to EITI in 2013, the government published the majority of mining, oil and gas contracts on the EITI Senegal website in October 2016, including 34 in mining and 15 in oil and gas. Yet there is little evidence of any use of the contracts in the year since their publication. As industry has highlighted anecdotally, there has been significantly more public debate about the contracts prior to their publication than subsequently.
There is significant scope for making more use of other data published by EITI Senegal for the first time. Information on mining, oil and gas licenses (including coordinates) has been made available online for the first time by EITI Senegal. Civil society could be mapping license data and empowering citizen control. Meanwhile timelier EITI reporting by the end of 2017 presents a unique opportunity to integrate the annual publication of EITI Reports into the normal parliamentary budget approval process.
Senegal has already pioneered the use of EITI Reports as a real diagnostic tool to support reforms. Now is the time to integrate this transparency into routine government and company systems. Using the information that has been disclosed to this point will be key to ensuring the credibility of future calls for more disclosures (e.g. beneficial ownership).
With thanks to Marième Diawara Thiaw, National Coordinator, and her colleagues from the Senegal-EITI Permanent Secretariat, for their contribution.