The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, led a Delegation of Civil Society groups working on transparency in the extractive sector and media persons in an exchange and experience sharing visit to Cote D’Ivoire. The Delegation engaged various stakeholders in the Extractive sector in Cote D’Ivoire, including civil society, the Burkina Faso EITI Technical Secretariat, National Assembly and the media.
From 10th to 14th December 2014, a Nigerian delegation, led by the Senior Program officer of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC and comprising of a representative of the Centre for Democracy and Development and a journalist, has sojourned in Cote D’Ivoire to share experiences on transparency issues in the extractive industries. It was hosted by the West African Youth Network, WAYN, a civil society organization in Abidjan. The Ivorian and Nigerian delegations have in these exchange activities, met with the ITIE, NGOs, including the Publish What You Pay Coalition, West African Network for Peace Building, WANEP, Company representatives in the extractive sector, officials of the Technical Secretariat of CNITIE, relevant Committee of the national Assembly and journalists.
During the meetings, brief presentations of Nigeria’s EITI process was made and an emphasis was put on collaboration between Civil Society Organizations in the extractive sector and strengthening the autonomy of the ITIE by establishing adequate legal frameworks, provide sufficient oversight, sensitize citizens and ensure transparency and accountability.
The delegations from the two countries share mutual successes of being EITI compliant and conducting, publishing and disseminating findings of Audit Reports. They congratulated their respective countries for this feat as indications of willingness to ensure transparency and accountability in the extractive sector in their countries. They however noted that this is yet to translate into the desired results of transparency, accountability and people-oriented development.
They noted the peculiarities of their respective countries in terms of the structure of government, size of the extractive sector and the character of the industry in their countries; they however noted the similarity in the dominance of unorganized artisanal miners in the mining sector of both countries with resultant loss of huge revenues for the government and people, with the Ivorian being worse hit. The similarity on the negative environmental effect of natural resource exploitation on the environment and the deprivation suffered by resource producing communities were also highlighted
The delegations of the two country noted that the EITI process in their respective countries have similarities. These includes the persistence of secrecy in transactions in the sector, governments and citizens’ inability to independently verify the quantities of resources extracted and sold due to the absence of measurement infrastructure, secrecy in the processes of licensing, confidentiality in and non publication of the contents of contracts for citizens to see and the beneficial owners of extractive companies are not disclosed.
It was noted that the Nigeria model with a law governing the extractive sector and establishing the NEITI to guarantee its autonomy, sustainability and secure funding was also desirable in Cote D’Ivoire where the ITIE appears to be headed by the Ministry of Finance on which it also depends of funding for its activities, as it is in other Francophone countries. It was noted that while the CNITIE in Cote D’Ivoire has tried to be as autonomous as possible, it will fare better if made more autonomous.
It is noted that the Nigerian practice of conducting the three audits namely financial audit, physical audit, the process audit and the Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement Audit which traces the application of the revenues from natural resources and its impacts on the welfare of the people can also benefit the people of Cote D’Ivoire.
The delegations noted the relatively low level of collaboration between civil society and the legislative arm of government in Cote D’Ivoire compared to Nigeria, especially as it related to engagement in the extractive sector. They highlighted the positive roles played by civil society organizations and the media in promoting transparency in the extractive sectors in both countries.
They also note that in the two countries, there are no ways of independently verifying the quantity of resources extracted by Companies because they lack the facilities to do so. They however noted the increasing awareness by civil society, citizens and resource rich communities. They also share the similarity that citizens in both countries are yet to truly enjoy the benefits from the natural resources in their respective countries as poverty; unemployment and poor standard of living persist.
The delegations of the two countries notes with mutual concern the need for their respective outstanding audit reports must be concluded and published by December 31, 2014 to avoid the sanction affecting their compliant status the EITI International, as this will translate to a setback in advancing transparency and accountability in the sector in their countries
In view of the discussions during the meetings, Civil Society from Cote D’Ivoire and Nigeria resolves as follows:
1. We commend the governments of our respective countries for accepting to implement the EITI and acknowledging the need to manage our Natural Resources with transparency and accountability and accepting the need for our citizens to benefit from the natural resources
2. We note that in spite of this commitment, our people are still yet to truly enjoy the benefits from the natural resources and only a few benefits from it. There is still a lot of secrecy and revenue loss to government with resultant effect on development and citizens’ welfare
3. We note with concern how companies continue to seek to undermine the efforts of our governments and citizens to get their rightful share of their natural wealth. The prevalence of unorganized artisanal mining, especially benefitting foreigners at the expense of citizens is worrisome
4. We note the limitation in capacity of relevant stakeholders, especially civil society in Cote D’ivoire to effectively engage the extractive sector considering that the sector is just emerging
Consequently we resolve as follows:
1. Show commitment to the citizens of our countries and improve their legislative oversight to ensure effective regulation of the extractive sector to promote the best interest of our people
2. Create a framework for improved discussion and collaboration with civil society in Cote D’Ivoire, ensure that they are carried along at every stage of law making to boost transparency in the extractive industries;
3. Ensure that there is effective oversight of the mining code to protect the interest of host communities, guarantee their rights and prevent environmental degradation that will impact on their health, welfare and livelihoods
4. Assert its independence from the executive and enact into laws useful proclamations initiated by the president to make it binding on stakeholders. The legal status of the requirement for the publication of mining contracts in Cote D’ivoire, is an example of this as this is now a requirement under the new EITI standard.
5. Work for the passage of a law that will make the ITIE independent sources of funding to make it more autonomous and reduce the influence of the Ministry of Finance in its operations
1. Accelerate the process of publishing the contents of all existing mining contracts in Cote D’Ivoire for citizens to see and monitor
2. Expedite the ongoing plans to organize the artisanal miners and ensure that the interests, rights and welfare of citizens of Cote’ D’Ivoire are well protected against exploitation and abuse by foreigners, while ensuring that the government derives maximum revenue from the natural resources for the development of Cote D’Ivoire.
3. The Government in the respective countries should also ensure that they implement the recommendations that have been made in the various audit reports as this is the only way to improve transparency in the sector and make the resources benefit the people
4. Introduce openness and transparency in the process of awarding mining licenses and concessions to mining companies and make public disclosures of contracts entered into. They should also create opportunity for civil society to participate in the contract award process.
5. Commence the process of establishing the mechanisms for independently measuring and ascertaining actual quantities of resources extracted and sold by extractive companies so as to capture actual revenues for use in development and improving the welfare of the citizens of the Burkina Faso and Nigeria
6. Put machineries in place for a comprehensive scoping study and survey of the mineral deposits in Cote D’Ivoire, rather than allow companies to have complete and sole control of the information and data related to such as this is detrimental to national survival and security
7. Commence the process of fully complying with the new EITI standards which includes, among others, determining and publishing the holders of licenses, ultimate beneficial owners of extractive companies, and disclosure of production figures to further strengthen transparency and accountability in the extractive sector
Civil Society should:
1. Continue to demand for increased transparency and accountability in the extractive sector
2. develop research, advocacy and networking skills to be able to constructively engage the EITI process, undertake evidence based advocacy, sensitize and mobilize citizens to demand for accountability in the extractive sector
3. Participate actively in the process of dissemination of information, findings of audit reports and education of the citizens
4. Develop effective ways of working with the media and other stakeholders in the academia, professional bodies to provide credible and objective support of the EITI implementation in Burkina Faso
The CSOs in both countries commended their government for signing unto the EITI process and making efforts to ensure transparency in the extractive sector and management of natural resources. They called on their respective governments not to relent on the revenues from natural resources translate to development, wealth, and good living standards for their citizens. They thanked the people and government of Cote D’Ivoire for providing an atmosphere conducive for this exchange and experience sharing visit to hold without hitches. They also thanked Oxfam Novib for providing support for CISLAC and the Nigerian Delegation. They pledged to continue to seek ways of collaboration between them and their respective countries.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Executive Director, CISLAC
Vice-Coordinator, PWYP-Cote D’ivoire
President, West African Youth Network