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Bulletin en français!

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In brief

Photo by PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE available on Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

  • PWYP USA welcomes its 40th member, the Borgen Project, an anti-poverty organisation.
  • OSIWA has published a report that analyses extractive sector governance in Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea, with a particular focus on both EITI and Publish What You Pay in those countries. As well as assessing how far transparency initiatives have translated into results on the ground, the report outlines a series of recommendations for each country. The launch of the report took place during a regional event organised by Oxfam, OSIWA and PWYP and saw activists from these countries advocate for increased commitment from the government as well as more support to increase civil society participation in the EITI.
  • PWYP was a signatory to an op-ed in support of Journalist Rafael Marques de Morais, currently on trial in Angola for a book he wrote that ‘alleges serious human rights violations committed by army generals and companies in diamond fields in Angola.’ Meanwhile, a Presidential Decree last December announced the formation of a working group in view of Angola applying to join EITI. Time will tell whether the Angolan government will follow up on this pledge but PWYP eyes are on the country.
  • PWYP Niger/ROTAB conducted a mission to Chad, in order to learn from their neighbour’s experiences in fighting for transparency and accountability in the oil sector. Over the course of the five-day trip, Nigerien civil society met with actors from the Chadian government, EITI stakeholders and civil society all involved with the oil sector. They also attended a workshop organised by Swissaid which focussed on civil society activism on oil issues in the country. Click here to read a summary of the trip and its findings (in French only). 

Senegal - changing the rules for a better chance to win

Photo by jordi.martorell available on Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Legal frameworks such as oil or mining codes can have a strong influence on the quality of a country’s natural resource management. After all, these frameworks determine the rules for how resources are exploited and managed - whether, and how much, revenue goes back directly to extractive communities; how resources will be taxed; whether contracts will be made public etc… They represent a real opportunity to integrate good governance practices in the process from the off. These frameworks are all the more useful as there has recently been a wave of reform as countries have decided to revise their oil or mining codes. These revisions create a chance for civil society to increase transparency and accountability in the extractive sector.

Such an opportunity opened up for PWYP members in Senegal, when the President declared the country’s mining code of 2003 was up for revision. Originally the government attempted to push through reform without consulting civil society but, following protests, they invited civil society to offer their submissions on the code. In their statement, PWYP members commend the progress that the draft code represents, but call for changes. In particular, PWYP members want more harmonisation between the code and the Africa Mining Vision and ECOWAS Directives. Additionally, they are calling for environmental compensation to be disbursed at the beginning of a project and for a portion of mining revenues to be dedicated to a fund for local development.

Are communities in West Africa benefiting from extraction? PWYP to investigate

It is known that many extractive communities not only fail to benefit from local projects, but also suffer the negative effects of extraction. But what are the conditions, at the local and national level, that lead to this? How do legislative frameworks and agreements with companies - say over local content - determine whether a community can glean enough benefits from a project to outweigh the negatives? More importantly, what are best practices so we can ensure the best conditions for communities?

These are the questions PWYP, in partnership with OSIWA, is looking to answer in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger - and we’re looking for consultants to help us in our study. To find out more, visit our site.  

Niger & Areva - missing contracts and presidential planes

Photo by Gustave Deghilage available on Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Six months ago, the Nigerien government announced it had signed a new contract with AREVA over the country’s uranium production. The contract itself was ten months overdue and the negotiation process had been both difficult and drawn out as the government sought to rebalance their relationship with AREVA and obtain a fair deal for their uranium. For their part, AREVA refused to have the 2006 Mining Code applied to their operations in Niger. Civil society, notably the Publish What You Pay coalition, campaigned hard to ensure that the new contract respect the 2006 mining code and contained a fair deal for the country. When the deal was announced last October, both parties stated that the country’s mining code - with its higher tax rate - had been imposed on AREVA.

Civil society has yet to verify these claims six months on as the contract has yet to be published. This, as PWYP Niger/ROTAB pointed out in their recent press release, is in violation with the country’s constitution which states that extractive contracts must be published.

The situation gets murkier still, as a French court ruled earlier this month that - in the infamous “AREVA gift” case, where the company is said to have paid for a Presidential plane - the company was indeed guilty of corruption. AREVA had taken the French NGO, Observatoire Nucléaire, to court for libel when the NGO broke the story - but the French court ruled that ‘morally’ the company had indeed attempted corruption. While the ruling is welcome, it doesn’t leave Nigerien citizens any better off, as no ‘gift’ from AREVA made it to the budget and the details of the uranium deal remain hidden.

You can read PWYP Niger’s statement in full (and in French).

Are you for big oil or big data?

In this blog, using submissions by civil society in resource-rich countries to the SEC, PWYP US explain just why big data is so important.

What most profoundly distinguishes American Petroleum Institute (API) from civil society organizations in resource-rich countries working to make a more transparent and accountable extractives sector?

(Hint: the answer we’re looking for is not “the ability to pay for an army of high-priced lawyers” – although that works too.)

Put bluntly, one of them sees the tragic human consequences of mismanaged natural resource wealth up-close, every day, and is in a position to speak credibly about solutions to the problem. The other, far-removed, is API.   

In a series of letters recently submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission, leaders of civil society organizations from Angola, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe speak to the intricacies of their countries’ extractives sectors, lay out precisely why API’s “good enough” approach to payment disclosure is anything but, and urge the SEC to release a rule for Section 1504 of Dodd-Frank that requires project-level reporting by contract, license, or lease.

Take as one example the letter submitted by Cecilia Mattia of National Advocacy Coalition on Extractives (NACE) in Sierra Leone. As Ms. Mattia explains, her country has a revenue-sharing agreement in place that ensures residents of diamond-producing neighborhoods (in Sierra Leone, a chiefdom) a share of the mining proceeds. The revenue sharing agreement stipulates that a diamond-producing chiefdom is entitled to a distribution of money from the national government, the value of which is determined in part by the number of licenses in the chiefdom. In Sierra Leone, a chiefdom represents the third administrative tier below national level, preceded by province and district. Yet, as Ms. Mattia explains, API’s “compromise” on project-level reporting is to report at the first tier below national level – or, in the case of Sierra Leone, at the province level. As chiefdom represents the third tier below national level, API’s proposal would say nothing about the number of licenses in each chiefdom. Thus, residents of diamond-producing neighborhoods would not receive the necessary information to ensure they are receiving their correct share from the national government.

Read the rest of the blog on our website.

Meet some of our activists!

We asked our members why they chose to campaign on transparency in the extractive sector. Here are their answers…

Rachel Etter - Malawi

I’ve grown up in Malawi and I have a deep concern that the way we use our natural resources doesn’t involve or benefit all Malawians. In the mid 2000s, Malawi’s largest mining project was launched amid many voices, those of excitement and those with concerns about the project and about mining in general for the country. I am interested in engaging with this discussion to ensure that dialogue is based on evidence and people who often do not have a voice are involved and see the benefits and not just the costs of projects. My faith motivates my work in social justice, in seeing improved relations between people and with the environment. In Malawi, I would like to see Publish What You Pay create a trustworthy platform to influence how mining contributes to sustainable development and to promote good stewardship of the resources Malawi has, the resources extracted and the revenue earned in return.

Chisomo Phiri - Zambia

I think that my choice to work on this campaign relates to part of the culture with which I grew up. In African culture you grow up as an extended family and I think this is in part what motivated me to do the course I did - development studies.

When I started working afterwards it was disheartening to see how communities were suffering despite there being a huge mining company in front of them. I’m very passionate about Publish What You Pay because people still don’t have access to information. Despite having all these policies and all these laws in our country, there is still a big gap for communities to cross.

My very first job was actually working in a supermarket. You know, when someone is working in a supermarket the salary is very minimal. And for someone like me who came from a good family, to look at someone receiving that salary, and renting a house, taking care of their family, bringing their children to school - I think for me that was the moment where I got the passion to work for the less-privileged.

Job Opportunities

Phot by Kate Hiscock available on Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Publish What You Pay - Communications Associate

The ideal candidate for the Communications Associate position would have academic and professional exposure to journalism, media, communications, political science or similar and demonstrated experience in new media and content management systems. Applicants must be enthusiastic and well-organised with excellent communications skills and an ability to write with flair and accuracy.

For more details visit our website 

Deadline: 31st March 2015