AfDB calls for transparent management of Africa’s mineral resources

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has called for a more transparent management of Africa’s mineral resources, underscoring the fact that the extraction of Africa’s oil, gas and mineral resources represents a boom for African countries if it is managed well. Opening a joint AfDB, World Bank and The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) workshop on Resource Governance and the Extractive Industries in Tunis, the Director of the Bank’s Governance and Financial Reform Department, Gabriel Negatu, said the AfDB was keen to promote greater transparency in the management of Africa’s mineral sector to ensure that it contributes to the economic well-being of the continent.

The June 2-3 extractive industries workshop series brought together country economists, governance, environmental, and natural resource management specialists, private sector operations task managers and field office staff in countries with significant oil and gas resources.

Negatu said the extraction of Africa’s oil, gas and mineral resources could benefit the AfDB Group’s Regional Member Countries (RMCs) only if it was properly managed, adding that transparency in the sector was of the greatest importance. To this end, the Bank Group has joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a partnership of governments, companies, civil society groups, investors and international organizations, that supports improved governance in resource-rich countries. Headquartered in Oslo, Norway, the EITI seeks to do this through the verification and publication of company payments and government revenues from oil, gas and mining.

Negatu said the AfDB was supporting the work of the EITI in five RMCs. “EITI helps us ensure that the current commodity boom offers a second chance, not a second curse,” he added.

Outside the EITI, the AfDB Group works with RMCs on broader governance issues related to the extractive industries. These include contract negotiations and enforcement, public expenditure management, auditing, and policy development and implementation, among other issues designed to improve governance in the extractive industries.

The prudent use and proper management of natural resources for the benefit of the citizenry is a critical issue for the AfDB as it affects aid effectiveness in infrastructure projects, private sector investment, resource allocation and lending support.

Key issues discussed during the workshop include case studies on some EITI implementing countries, key success factors in EITI programs, building a donor program on EITI and going beyond EITI ( the ‘EITI ++’ agenda). Participants also considered EITI process and trends, multi-stakeholder character and national ownership, trends in outreach to middle income countries and BRICs, endorsements and UN resolution, the role of the EITI Secretariat as the guardian of the process, the development of a methodology and validation process, an overview of EITI implementation globally, donors supporting EITI programs globally and the role of the World Bank and the EITI trust fund.

The meeting also looked at the extent of EITI implementation in Africa, donor agencies working on EITI programs in various countries, potential EITI candidates and strengthening the World Bank / AfDB cooperation in support of EITI in the region.