Togo: A quiet revolution

"While it is the countries of the North who launched the EITI,
it is our countries that need it the most."
Parfait Dzivénou, national secretariat of EITI Togo.

This week, Togo published its first EITI Report on the 2010 revenues from the mining and oil sectors. This is a "miracle" for some, as access to information on revenue generated by phosphate, limestone and other minerals has long been inaccessible, even taboo.

However, this information does not just fall from the sky. It is an accumulation of months of effort and dialogue between government, mining and oil companies and civil society. Since Togo gained EITI Candidate status, these actors, who are not necessarily used to sit around the same table, made the choice to provide more transparency on what the government receives from companies for the exploitation of underground natural resources, and to publish this information in an EITI Report.

For Togo, a small West African country between Ghana and Benin and aspiring to "emerge" after years of instability and division, the extractives sector is of paramount importance. Togo is the third largest producer of phosphate in sub-Saharan Africa and mining activity is regarded as the lifeblood of the economy. Paradoxically, this wealth has become a nightmare for most of the people living in mining areas as it has brought diseases, pollution and depletion. Furthermore, more and more are speaking out saying that mining is too isolated from the rest of the national economy, and it fails to generate the expected “manna”.

What do we learn from Togo’s first EITI Report? Like some 80 EITI Reports published to date by countries worldwide, the EITI Report published by the Togolese government compares company statements of what they paid to the State with the revenue that the State has reported having received from these same companies. It also provides information on companies' social contributions and the amounts of minerals produced. Togo has received US $ 60 million from mining and oil companies in 2010, representing 10% of total revenues of the State for that year. Is it enough? How is the difference between payments reported by companies and revenues disclosed by the State explained? What are the benefits for the people? So many questions like these will arise during the public debates organised around the EITI Report in Lomé, Kpalimé, Vogan, Bassar, Tabligbo and in all mining communities around the country.

The EITI generates much hope among the Togolese people. Many are already calling for its extension to all sectors of public life. For civil society, it is no longer possible to turn back because "natural resources must be well managed in a transparent manner so that they can benefit everyone."

Certainly, the path will not be easy, but the Togolese, like their neighbours in Ghana who are engaged in EITI, have faith in this quiet revolution in favour of a more transparent and accountable governance.