Herding open data

Beyond annual reporting of payments, the EITI is a tool for building open extractives data systems.

Mauritania has a strong tradition of nomadic herding, a vibrant culture of communication, trading and kindness to strangers. It has an opportunity to apply the same principles through the EITI. The EITI provides a framework for government and company disclosures. A key focus of this work is promoting open data.

As Mauritania’s EITI reporting has become more timely, with preparations for the 2015 EITI Report now underway, the next step will be to embed disclosures of information required under the EITI Standard into routine government and company systems. Mauritania has a number of online information portals that provide limited extractives information, such as the Mauritanian Development Portal, the Private Sector Promotion Directorate, the Treasury and MPEM’s two websites (here and here). Moving beyond standalone EITI reporting in a static PDF format, Mauritania has the opportunity to use the EITI as a tool for structuring government open data disclosures. Other countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mongolia, Timor-Leste and the United States of America are doing the same.

Existing sources

The government already publishes extensive information on oil. The Treasury publishes monthly reports on oil production and revenues on its website and has integrated an extractive industry line in its financial operations table (TOFE). However, timely production figures are not publicly available for mining, with production figures on the Ministry of Petroleum, Energy and Mines (MPEM) website only up to 2012. The central bank website publishes quarterly statistical bulletins with updated GDP figures for mining, oil and gas.

Interoperability

While the MPEM is reforming its mining and petroleum license registers, these remain offline. The ministry’s websites provide only low-definition maps of geology and mining licenses and lists of license-holders in mining and oil and gas. Applicants for a mining license can apply for licenses covering different minerals on the same area, given that license-holder rights are not exclusive.

With support from Germany's GiZ and the World Bank, the MPEM is considering different options for establishing an online mining cadastre. The EITI, through its requirement on license registers, provides a model of best practice in license cadastres and a platform for multi-stakeholder consultations in establishing a modern cadastre. Interoperability with other government systems would support the development of integrated land use mapping.

Open standards

By seizing opportunities for publishing EITI data on the respective agencies’ websites – Treasury, customs, line ministries – Mauritania can simplify its EITI reporting and focus on bridging information gaps and improving public awareness. The Customs department has shown interest in reporting mineral export figures on its website, in line with the EITI Requirement on export data.

The state-owned oil company SMHPM (Société Mauritanienne Des Hydrocarbures et de Patrimoine Minier), which recently published its audited financial statements for 2009-2014, has shown interest in publishing more information on the way in which it sells in-kind revenues, the state’s share of Chinguetti oil production. The partners in the Chinguetti PSC consortium (Petronas, SMHPM, Tullow Oil and Kufpec) contract a marketing agent for selling the crude oil, currently Vitol, and export one crude cargo a quarter given low output. Mauritania has signed on to the EITI’s targeted effort on commodity trading, expecting that its disclosure on Chinguetti oil sales will set the standard of reporting for a planned liquefied natural gas terminal to develop the Tortue natural gas on the border with Senegal.

Reliably complete

The EITI also provides a platform for tracking improvements in auditing practices and assessing the reliability of data produced by both government and companies. Mauritania’s auditor general, the Court of Counts (Cour des Comptes), is only now preparing to publish the state’s audited accounts for 2007-2009, with the latest published accounts dating from 2006. Absent updated government audit reports, Mauritania has used the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s General Inspectorate of Finance to ensure the reliability of government data in its 2014 EITI Report.

With the two extractives state-owned enterprises (SOEs) publishing updated audited financial statements online in June (state-owned Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière (SNIM)) published its 2009-2015 statements online too), Mauritania’s EITI Reports are a tool for tracking evolutions in auditing of government entities, using the Independent Administrator’s professional judgement. While the SNIM also reports general information about its non-commercial expenditures through its foundation, Mauritania could also use the EITI to report the two SOEs’ financing practices and subsidiaries and quasi-fiscal expenditures.

Classifying revenues

The EITI is also a tool for migrating to international revenue classification systems, which allow for easier comparison of revenues with different years and countries. Detailed GFS-coded extractive revenue is already available for recent EITI Reports (to 2014) on the Mauritania EITI country page, which can be compared with similarly-classified data from other EITI countries.

As Treasury works to reform its extractive revenues classification system, these EITI summary tables provide a clear structure for extractive revenues, with clear definitions for each GFS sub-category. By assigning extractives-specific codes within the Treasury’s accounting system, Mauritania would be able to track extractives revenues in real time and clearly distinguish more volatile extractives revenues from more reliable non-mining income.

Use of data

The outlook for the extractives sector is challenging, with demands for openness from host communities and expectations of regulatory certainty and a level playing field from industry. The EITI’s work is about strengthening government systems to improve development prospects and reinforce principles of transparency and accountability. Moving from static reports to timely regular disclosures of data will strengthen public oversight and build common expectations.

 

Mr Djibi Sow, Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister, Chair of the EITI multi-stakeholder group in Mauritania, and EITI Mauritania National Coordinator