Day 3 of EITI Congos week: 15 April.
Once again, EITI events were divided between the two cities of Brazzaville and Kinshasa, with many Board members making the courney across the river.
Report from the Board meeting
Today, the Board returned to the complex topics of the status of Azerbaijan following a validation and Afghanistan following a secretariat review.
Azerbaijan’s EITI status was today downgraded from ‘compliant’ to ‘candidate’ following a Validation report carried out earlier this year. Validation is the EITI’s independent evaluation mechanism and Azerbaijan is the first country to be validated against the 2013 EITI Standard. The validation does not assess the 2013 EITI report, which is due to be published in May 2015. Azerbaijan had previously been found compliant in 2009 against the old EITI Rules.
Clare Short, Chair of the EITI, said: “There has been some progress in addressing our concerns, but further work is needed to ensure that civil society in Azerbaijan can participate in the EITI in a meaningful way. We look forward to continuing to work together.”
Azerbaijan is still counted as EITI member. It can regain compliant status if it implements corrective actions within 12 months, or face suspension.
Afghanistan did not meet the requirements of the 2011 EITI Rules in its recent assessment (known as a secretariat review). Rather than give Afghanistan another year to meet the requirements of the EITI Rules, it agreed that it should join the other 47 implementing countries in seeking to meet the 2013 Standard. In order to transition to these requirements, the country has been given a further 18 months.
The rest of the Board meeting was focused on governance and housekeeping issues. Following a self-assessment survey, the Board agreed to move ahead with a review of its governance structures: its Board, secretariat, oversight and support of implementation. The Board approved its 2014 Accounts and its 2014 Audit Report. It discussed the process for nominating its next Chair.
The Board agreed that the EITI Global Conference would take place on 23-24 February in Lima. In recent discussions, the new Peruvian Minister of Energy and Mines, Rosa Maria Ortiz Rios, had welcomed the Conference to take place there.
The next Board meeting in Berne in late October will focus on further strategy discussions, the progress and recommendations of the governance review, and the next steps on nominating a new EITI Chair.
The EITI International Secretariat wants to take this opportunity to thank the Congolese, and especially Michel Okoko and his team from the Congolese EITI national secretariat, for their excellent hosting and logistical support throughout these two days.
Training for effective communication
The National Coordinators crossed the river with frightening speed and in record time on Tuesday to join the Board in Brazzaville. Their flexibility and apt for recovery showed today, Wednesday, with the workshop restarting in full force. They first engaged in sometimes intense discussions on the range and value of information that the EITI makes available to incite and support debate. One of the main conclusions: key is not to ask whether “this information is required or encouraged” but, rather focus on “if the information is useful, let’s see how to make it available”. Then, participants exchanged thoughts on how companies and civil society organisations can help shape the EITI, to include tailored information to suit their needs.
The communications training session focused on websites and social media uses, with Gisela emphasizing use of website tracking tools, such as Google analytics. Communications officers were surprised at the ease with which one could monitor traffic and dissect the users of their websites.
The communications officers then developed their different approaches to establishing networks of journalists, cultivating relationships and creating effective sound-bites. The discussion also touched on sensitive yet pertinent topics such as compensation for journalists and the uses and abuses of such payments. The communications officers developed the key messages they were to convey during their press statements at the media training in the afternoon.
The media training then continued with communications officers sharing their experiences with their National Coordinators, to prepare them for their 60 seconds on the air. In many cases, this transfer of knowledge yielded impressive results. In all cases, participants grasped the opportunity to benefit from the expertise and personalised feed-back from France 24’s Tatiana Mossot.
President Sassou N’Guesso welcomes Clare Short and Board delegation in Brazzaville
HE Denis Sassou N’Guesso, President of the Republic of Congo, met with Clare Short, Senator Findley, Jean-Francois Lassalle, and Michel Okoko from the EITI Board. Former EITI Board member and Congolese activist, Christian Mounzeo, also attended the meeting. The delegation thanked the President for his support of the process and for hosting the meeting, and agreed with the President that there was more still to do make the process more relevant and important in the Congolese context.
Clare Short and Board delegation also meet with DR Congo Prime Minister, Matata Ponyo
Prime Minister Matata Ponyo received the EITI Board delegation in Kinshasa. The Board congratulated the government for progress made toward improving governance of its extractive sector, and encouraged sustained efforts to address the recommendations made in previous EITI reports. PM Matata reiterated his commitment to strive for improved governance of the sector.
African national oil companies discuss opening up their business
In Congo Brazzaville, 80% of government revenue comes from the sale of oil by the national oil company, SNPC. The EITI Standard includes a number of requirements to promote greater transparency and accountability in oil trading. Today, representatives from Cote D’Ivoire, the DR Congo and the Republic of Congo discussed reporting by their national oil companies as part of the EITI reporting process, which has included a range of activities to strengthen auditing and financial management. Global trader Trafigura highlighted their endorsement of the EITI, and willingness to work with MSGs to strengthen the EITI reporting process by reconciling oil trading transactions. The international secretariat has prepared a briefing note, and these issues are expected to feature prominently at the next EITI Board meeting in Berne, Switzerland.