The EITI Chair, Fredrik Reinfeldt, visited West Africa during the week of 22-26 August. He visited a region emerging from the Ebola crisis and struggling with low mineral prices. The former Swedish Prime Minister met with his counterparts in Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire. Both Guinea’s Prime Minister Mamady Youla and Cote d’Ivoire’s Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan reaffirmed the commitment of their governments to using the EITI to improve the governance of their extractives sectors.
Prime Minister Duncan noted his intention to achieve double-digit growth in Cote d’Ivoire, from 9% GDP growth in 2015, partly through major foreign investment expected in the hydrocarbon and mining sectors. He also noted the increasing role of the mining sector where gold production increased from seven tons in 2010 to a projected 25 tons a year in 2016.
Guinea has advanced reforms in revising its mining code and publishing contracts, and the Minister of Mines Abdoulaye Magassouba was particularly interested in using the EITI to address aggressive transfer pricing practices. Guinea is considered rich in natural resources, with bauxite, gold and diamonds the main commodities produced. The latest EITI Report (including data from 2013) showed that 28% of government receipts were provided by the extractive sector. However, according to President Alpha Condé, years of corruption, poor governance and instability have prevented Guinea’s mining sector from achieving its potential.
From Francophone Africa, the EITI Chair travelled to Sierra Leone and met with President Ernest Bai Koroma. The President confirmed his strong support for the EITI including the beneficial ownership requirements. “We much welcome the disclosure of beneficial ownership. With layer after layer, people are trying to hide. We have an experience we are not proud of. I strongly believe that the EITI will help us this time around.”
In parallel to the EITI Chair’s visit to Cote d’Ivoire, representatives from the 14 EITI Francophone African countries gathered in Abidjan for a peer-learning workshop, funded by the Belgians. The agenda included developing a beneficial ownership roadmap, changes to the 2016 EITI Standard, the Validation mechanism, artisanal and small scale mining and transparency in commodity trading. Opening remarks from Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister of Finance Adama Koné highlighted the progress the country has made in improving the governance of the oil, gas and mining sector. The Minister pointed to the adoption of a new mining law in 2014 and that the government aims to increase the country's GDP issued from the mining sector from 1% as it currently stands to 5% in 2020. The 56 workshop participants also had the opportunity to visit the national oil and mining companies and the African Legal Support Facility, housed in the African Development Bank. Blog posts (day 1, day 2, day 3) provide a flavour of the workshop.