EITI's Eddie Rich blogs about this week's meeting of the National Coordinators.
When Apple launched the iPhone 5 in September, it was after much consultation with potential customers, despite popular belief about Apple. Would it give them the platform they want, would it work, would it be understandable and flexible, and would it go further than previous versions? This extensive consultation determined the final product. Like the iPhone, the EITI is a platform for the wide needs of its users and is in need of constant upgrading to be continue to be useful. Whilst the Board designs the upgrades, the product needs constant input from the users, or it will become redundant. The EITI has one advantage over Apple. The users (implementing countries) are represented amongst the designers (the EITI Board) themselves. They need to make their voice heard.
So it is timely that the National Coordinators from all 36 implementing countries will meet in Lusaka on 22-24 October at the fourth National Coordinators Meeting. Armed with the experience of 100 EITI reports from over 30 countries, the meeting will be an opportunity to learn from each other, inspire and lift country’s efforts - much as we saw at the EITI National Exhibition at the EITI Global Conference in Paris, March 2011. Furthermore, it is the first time that all national coordinators (not just those that serve on the Board) can sit down for a direct discussion about the new EITI standard/upgrade with the EITI Board.
At the Paris Conference, the idea of the EITI strategy was merely a glint in the eye of those who had inputted into and read the evaluation of the EITI. A year and a half on, some 50 papers, countless proposals put forward (and many dropped), a vision of a simpler, better EITI is taking shape that has broad support. Many of those papers and proposals came from implementing countries and many came from elsewhere. The national coordinators have been invited to consult with their MSGs on the emerging consensus as set out in the Building on Achievements paper, and they will come to Lusaka well prepared with the views of stakeholders in their countries.
Customer demand for integrated telecommunications and internet usage turned the mobile phone into a smartphone. By iPhone 5, it had become a platform for far wider networking and apps. Experience from implementing countries turned the EITI from an initiative into a standard. The EITI needs now to recognise and encourage its role as a platform for wider reform and country-specific applications.
For the sake of the success of the product, I believe that national coordinators' opinions are needed to determine what the "EITI 2" platform will be.