The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) says African governments must join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) despite the weaknesses in its current form, as it will ensure lasting benefits for citizens.
A statement issued by ACEP on February 24, 2016, and signed by Executive Director Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, said the EITI provides best governance practices for transparent and accountable management of resource wealth, and provides “the greatest opportunity ever for African governments who are genuinely desirous of providing sustainable development for their citizens”.
However, some African countries have not joined and the energy policy think tank says it is concerned that African governments have not achieved the promised resource-based development despite a decade of resource boom.
“Whilst the spread of EITI has improved in Africa, we are equally alarmed that the majority of Africa’s resource-rich countries have not yet joined the EITI. In some of these countries, the resource wealth of the citizens is not only mismanaged with contempt, but also often stolen and invested in private accounts abroad, whilst the people face dehumanizing conditions at home. In some of these countries, there is increasing malnutrition, high infant mortality rate, widening rich-poor gap and abject poverty”, the statement said.
It added that at current estimates of discovered mineral and hydrocarbon resources, sub-Saharan Africa could have achieved food security, universal education and medical care but has been hindered by bad governance, and it is unjustifiable that the continent is still food-insecure and associated with high illiteracy and low access to medical care.
The statement called for the adoption of common reporting standards for African countries in the initiative.
The energy policy think tank stated that the discretionary reporting format of EITI requirements, gives governments and multi-stakeholder groups control over the coverage and comprehensiveness of their reports, resulting in differential reporting standards between countries.
The group said it further wants the international EITI board to consider new ways of assessing EITI-compliant status for countries at the 7th global EITI conference in Lima.
ACEP also called for greater citizen involvement in EITI and support for the disclosure of beneficial ownership information in resource deals, to check illicit financial outflows and corporate corruption.
By Emmanuel Odonkor