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Three takeaways from Addis Ababa

Three takeaways from Addis Ababa

The EITI Board gathered to assess country progress, discuss the EITI’s role in addressing corruption and deepen cross-organisational collaboration.

Less than a week after the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, Addis Ababa was a fitting backdrop for the 45th EITI Board meeting, hosted by the Government of Ethiopia. With the extractive industries being one of Ethiopia’s “big four” focus areas for economic growth, the EITI’s mandate is particularly relevant in the country. EITI Chair Helen Clark met with Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde in the sidelines of the meeting to discuss how EITI implementation can support sustainable development, including in some of the most challenging contexts.

As the first full Board meeting of the new EITI Board, the two-day agenda ranged from workplans and outreach strategy to Validation and anti-corruption. Here are some of the main takeaways:

1. EITI implementing countries are making headway

The Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Mozambique and Myanmar were found to have made “meaningful progress” in implementing the EITI Standard. Having undergone second Validations, Iraq and Mozambique’s results showcase what the process aims to achieve: a positive direction of travel towards greater transparency in the management of the upstream extractive industry activities. Iraq’s suspension has been lifted, and Mozambique improved its government engagement and license transparency. But gaps remain in all four countries, as outlined in the Validation decisions.

How EITI implementing countries fare in subsequent rounds of Validation plays into a broader question on the effectiveness of the Validation process in assessing and promoting transparency, which will be the subject of an EITI Board review in the coming months. The Board will also consider how to better support countries in strengthening their capacity for more meaningful EITI implementation.

2. The EITI should clarify its role in addressing corruption

While the EITI shines a light on country-level practices in the extractive sector that are at high risk of corruption, more can be done to address it, as outlined in a discussion paper by independent expert Alexandra Gillies, The EITI's Role in Addressing Corruption.

The EITI Board discussed the findings and recommendations, acknowledging the EITI’s strengths and limitations. Next steps will include considering how the EITI can more clearly articulate its role in addressing corruption, sharing disclosure practices on supply and service contracting, and providing practical guidance on how EITI reporting can inform anti-corruption work.

3. EITI and Supreme Audit Institutions

In countries that rely on revenues from extractives, SAIs play an important role in the oversight of public expenditure and auditing government financial information.

It is no surprise then that EITI and SAIs have engaged extensively in the past. In a special two-day workshop, EITI and SAI representatives from Eastern and Southern Africa explored opportunities to deepen their collaboration, such as drawing on EITI data and analysis, leveraging work planning and risk assessments, and raising public awareness and support. Efforts to systematically disclose data are also prompting EITI implementing countries to strengthen their engagement with SAIs, to help reduce the cost of EITI implementation and improve data timeliness and reliability.

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