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Improving dialogue, improving communication, improving government systems

Day 2 of the EITI Francophone Africa peer learning week

 “It is not a problem of will, but a problem of a weak structure and information.” - Djibi Sow, National Coordinator of Mauritania

It is clear that the region needs better information systems. Michel Okoko, National Coordinator of Republic of the Congo said, “There is a lot of talk about information systems. Why? Because they don’t work”. 

In her intervention, Michèle Clotilde Moukoko Mbonjo, Finance Director at the Société Nationale des Hydrocarbures (SNH) in Cameroon remarked “It’s the lack of information that creates rumours. The challenge is to keep working so that the data is more well-known”. Participants were very familiar with the concept of open data and in general embraced it. The words “not secret”, “not technical”, “accessible” and “usable” were a few of the words commonly used by the participants.

Can reliable data be timely?

Participants repeated again and again that it was the reliability, the trustworthiness of the data coming from the EITI process, that was key to better governance. However, this verification process (reconciliation) does not happen overnight and the data becomes old. There is obviously then a trade-off between reliability and timeliness. One participant cautioned that “we are risking our reputation if we start publishing data that has not gone through verification – how do we deal with that?”

What are the tools available for implementing the EITI?

The work plan is a tool to identify the weaknesses in the sector and how to address them. Kokou Didier Agbemadon, National Coordinator of Togo and EITI Board member, presented tools for implementing the EITI. On Annual Progress Reports, which tracks the progress on the work plan, he said that these reports serve as “a window into our country, into the governance of the extractive sector.”

What do the people want to know about contracts ? – Cheikh Tidiane Touré, National Coordinator, Senegal

Two words – publishing contracts – ignited a lively debate. Representatives from each of the 14 countries made interventions showing what a controversial topic this was in their country. 

Avoid money laundering, fight corruption, fraud and evasion, identify conflict of interest, know who is exploiting, be socially responsible – workshop participants

When asked why their EITI should include beneficial ownership disclosure, this potpourri of terms and expressions were thrown out. Going through the beneficial ownership road map helped to guide countries on how to carry out this exercise with their multi-stakeholder groups once they are back home. On as to why beneficial ownership should be included, Mr Agbemadon stated, “We would like to know with whom we are entrusting the exploitation of our resources” .