Documentation of progress
Impact: Objectives of EITI Niger’s successive work plans have expanded to the fight against conflicts of interest and integrating real-time disclosures in national systems. According to its own metrics of strengthening EITI reporting, the EITI has only had a moderate impact in Niger. While EITI reporting has successfully been expanded to the oil and gas sector, including midstream refining, its contribution to public debate has remained marginal at best. The most tangible impacts of implementation appear to have come as a result of crises, rather than through reform of national systems, and do not appear coordinated. The Court of Counts launched audits of government’s extractives revenues for the first time as a result of corrective actions required by the EITI Board during its first Validation, under the EITI Rules. The results of the Court of Counts’ audits, themselves delayed beyond the EITI’s two-year timeliness rules, are not integrated to the EITI process from which they originated. The EITI has also helped ensure space for civil society to demand information on extractives governance, with the EITI Board intervening to secure the release of civil society activists members of the MSG in 2014. Yet civil society, companies and donors have tended to commission research into hot-topic issues such as subnational transfers, production figures and environmental impacts entirely independently from the EITI. By circumventing the data collection and analysis tool that is the EITI, stakeholders have only weakened it.
With MSG members only tangentially accountable to their constituencies, discussions at MSG meetings appear to have remained detached from social, economic and political realities. Dissemination and outreach to areas outside Niamey that host extractives activities have tended to be one-way channels where the EITI Reports are distributed, without necessarily content adequate to meet local demands for information. While such events have provided outlets for popular debate about extractive industry management, the feedback mechanisms to MSG discussions and the drafting of key EITI documents appear to have been weak at best. Only by strengthening its own representativeness will the MSG ensure the information it works to disclose is pertinent to national priorities. Driven by the Permanent Secretariat, the MSG has been proactively involved in drafting large parts of Niger’s EITI Reports, accounting for over 90% of the work according to stakeholders consulted. While successive Independent Administrators have played only a supporting role executing the quality assurance and reconciliation of financial data, the time has come for the MSG to seek technically-proficient input to key scoping and materiality decisions in line with the ToR it had adopted for annual EITI reporting. The MSG’s online reporting project could be leveraged into a fully-fledged online data portal, mainstreaming disclosures under as many EITI requirements as possible into a single platform updated in a timelier basis than Niger’s EITI Reports. There is clear scope for linkages to ongoing domestic reforms and sources of international support, such as the initiative backed by (OSIWA) to develop online data portals in certain francophone African implementing countries.
Despite significant logistical challenges, Niger’s vibrant civil society has generated a robust national debate on public management of the country’s resources, from uranium to oil. However, these have tended to be more punctual activities rather than sustained outreach. There is significant scope to leverage the more active dissemination and outreach characteristic of the period until 2015, drawing on CSOs’ extensive experience and networks and more active engagement from government and industry. Whilst limited and combined with broader CSO consultations on extractive industry governance, dissemination and outreach have highlighted significant popular demand for information that EITI Reports could in part disclose, including subnational transfers, production figures and environmental provisioning. The challenge for EITI Niger is to establish robust mechanisms to channel voices not directly represented on the MSG into the national debate, from local communities to parliamentarians and anti-corruption watch-dogs, to ensure EITI implementation meets domestic challenges. The EITI has tended to remain in a silo in Niger as a parallel process more focused on compliance than on addressing locally-important challenges. While EITI implementation has led to important reforms such as annual, albeit often delayed, Court of Counts audits of government extractives revenues, the EITI has not fulfilled its potential as a platform for integrating such reforms into a coherent and consistent programme.
While the government’s rhetoric clearly links EITI to other anti-corruption efforts, the operational contacts have been only preliminary in practice. In policy terms, the government draws on concepts of transparency and good governance in its reform proposals, such as the long-mooted Charter on Good Governance in the Extractive Industries or the planned reform of the Mining Code, even if roll out has been slow. Several senior government officials consulted drew the link between Niger’s improvements in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index and its EITI implementation, even if such links appear tangential. Niger remains at the bottom of the United Nations’ Human Development Index and faces significant security challenges. Niger’s score in the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking has improved in recent years, from 174th in 2008 to 150th in 2017, but it remains un-rated by credit rating agencies (World Bank, 2017).
Sustainability: There is significant high-level political support for integrating at least some aspects of EITI reporting into government systems. Yet while senior government officials consulted highlighted the need to integrate EITI into national government systems, there is little evidence that the government has moved to disclose in a routine manner more information required under the EITI Standard to date aside from through the Court of Counts’ government extractives revenues audits (the Court of Counts was still working on finalising its 2013-2014 audit in January 2017). However, there is significant scope to work with government entities to ensure key EITI data most in demand is disclosed in a timelier manner. The MSG could start by using the EITI Niger website for the low-hanging fruit. It could review the physical copies of the Journal Officiel, scanning, uploading and categorising the full copies of what mining and petroleum contracts had already been published. The Tax Department’s (DGI) work on single tax identification numbers for all taxpayers should also significantly streamline EITI reporting, if rolled out to all revenue-collecting entities. The DGI could also leverage the MSG’s work on summary data tables of EITI data, already produced for the 2013 EITI Report, to start implementing a GFS-type revenue classification system, which would allow the government to disaggregate extractives revenues in real time in its Financial Operations Dashboard (TOFE). The ongoing reforms of the mining and petroleum cadastres in MMID and MPE should be leveraged to publicly disclose license information in real-time. The MSG has the potential to act as a coordinating platform implementing a standard of open extractives data.
Despite the political change of the 2010-2011 period, the prime ministerial decrees institutionalising the EITI have not been updated since 2008. While the decrees provide legal backing for EITI implementation, there is an urgent need – recognised by the MSG itself – to revise the framework in light of current practice. The government has consistently provided funding for EITI implementation since inception, earmarking funds within the Prime Minister’s Office to EITI Niger during the elaboration budget in September-November every year. The AfDB’s PAMOGEF, a key source of funding for non-core activities, was extended by six months from its original end date to June 2017, but the MSG will need to approach development partners to secure funding for activities such as dissemination and developing a beneficial ownership register.
Innovations and lessons learned: The MSG has expanded the scope of Niger’s EITI reporting beyond basic requirements even before the EITI Standard was agreed in 2013, including the refinery SORAZ in the scope of reporting since the 2011 EITI Report and some information on artisanal and small-scale mining until the 2014 EITI Report. While this has in part addressed local concerns, there is scope for expanding the granularity of disclosures about the Zinder refinery in particular to support the vibrant debate about the future direction of Niger’s oil and gas industry. With debate raging over the channels for exporting part of Niger’s forecast 60,000 bpd production once the Agadem oil production is expanded in coming years, more detailed information about pipeline transport and refining as in Chad’s EITI reporting could would serve more meticulous public debate.
Civil society led dissemination and outreach in local languages until 2015, despite capacity and logistical constraints, was another key strength of the EITI Niger process. While security priorities have affected the level of resources dedicated to public outreach, the vibrant public debate over extractives governance including in resource-rich areas provides fertile ground for EITI implementation to provide at least part of the information in highest demand. As highlighted by many CSOs consulted, the quality of Niger’s laws and regulations is rarely matched by their implementation. By providing a mechanism for public oversight of the implementation of extractives governance, the EITI should provide an effective channel for debate amongst the broadest cross-section of stakeholders including grassroots community associations, unions, traditional rulers, national NGOs and the media.
In a process driven by the Permanent Secretariat, the MSG has been particularly engaged in the process of EITI reporting, which appears to have become a routine compliance procedure for most companies operating in Niger’s mining and petroleum sectors. The MSG now faces the twin challenges of drawing on third-party professional expertise to ensure the quality of its EITI reporting continues to improve on an annual basis, while ensuring that its findings and recommendation build on and feed into on-going reforms. The MSG is highly encouraged to draw on the professional opinion of its Independent Administrators as it builds its online reporting platform. It must also liaise closely with other reformers in government to ensure EITI Reports are effective trackers of the implementation of reforms and provide pertinent recommendations for further reforms. To capitalise on its potential, EITI Niger must become more than the sum of its parts.