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Open letter to President Obama from PWYP African activists

On the eve of the US-Africa summit, PWYP’s Africa Steering Committee wrote to President Obama urging him to make extractive transparency commitments. This letter, available in full on our site, was disseminated around the world by our members, whom we thank for their involvement. The letter was presented by our activists to the US Embassies in Niger, DRC, Chad, Gabon, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana Sierra Leone and Guinea. It was read out at several press conferences, from Chad to DRC and featured on Slovenian radio and Sierra Leone print press. It also featured on several online outlets and was the basis of an op-ed in Trust Law. 

Dear Mr. President,

We, the African civil society leaders of Publish What You Pay - a global coalition campaigning for an open and accountable gas, oil and mining sector - are addressing you on the eve of the US - Africa Leaders Summit.

We are addressing you as concerned citizens, forced to see their countries cheated out of revenues as illicit financial flows drain Africa of its resources. Because of trade mispricing, opacity and secrecy jurisdictions our continent has lost out on more than $1 trillion over the last 30 years. Africa is generating revenues, but many of these flow to the pockets of rich corporations and individuals rather than back to citizens. It shouldn’t be this way.

We are addressing you as worried parents, who fear that by the time our grandchildren grow up our country’s natural resources will have been depleted and we will have little to show for it. Our natural resources are an opportunity for us to create better lives for our future generations, but if good governance does not prevail that chance will be squandered. And with oil, gas and mining, the one chance is all you get.

We are addressing you as committed Africans and credible civil society actors that engage in good governance. Despite the difficulties there is a growing movement for good governance across our continent. Countries are joining, and successfully implementing, standards such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. They are taking ownership of natural resource management, incorporating the Africa Mining Vision and providing the continent with its own framework. We are building up expectations that the government has a role to manage natural resources in an accountable and transparent manner. But we, as civil society, need a guaranteed space and platform so that we can operate.

You once said that “Africa’s future is up to Africans”; and that is all we ask…

Read the rest of the letter online…

Photo Credit: Liz West, Flickr, available under a Creative Commons License

In Brief

  • How can local government representatives use EITI to ensure their citizens benefit from better managed extraction? What laws and regulations exist that representatives can use to protect their citizens from extraction? Bantay Kita and  Alyansa Tigil Mina joined forces in the Philippines to train local government units on these questions and more. Read their press release.
  • BP and its partners paid $350 million to the Angolan government to build a research centre, but where is this centre? Global Witness makes the case for why transparency in revenue payments, and Dodd-Frank 1504, are so crucial if citizens are to benefit from their natural resources.
  • “We are still pushing on and we shall not give up” is the answer you get when you ask PWYP Uganda about their campaign to have the country join EITI. Find out more

Image from Bantay Kita, our affiliated coalition in the Philippines

Resources for the future: high-level panel on eve of US-Africa Summit

As African Heads of State and US representatives meet this week in DC for the first ever Africa-US summit, civil society organisations organised a high-level panel to provide a space for a discussion on the good governance of natural resources. More than 100 representatives from civil society, companies and governments attended. The speakers, listed below, included PWYP Niger’s Ali Idrissa who spoke of the campaign for fiscal justice in Niger.

For coverage of the event, see the ONE Campaign blog, Full Disclosure extract below:

As anyone who lives or works in Washington, D.C., knows, the city is abuzz with the first ever US-Africa Summit – which has brought nearly 50 African heads-of-state and thousands of African activists, business representatives, and youth leaders to the nation’s capital.

Beyond the noisy motorcades and pesky street closures, this week is full of interesting meetings and events aimed at facilitating dialogue on a number of topics important to the future of the African continent.

Read the rest of the blog online

The speakers included: George Soros, Joseph N. Boakai, Heather Higginbottom, Mojanku Gumbi, Mo Ibrahim, Ali Idrissa, Daniel Kaufmann and Simon Taylor.

Organisers: Global Financial Integrity, Global Integrity, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch, International Budget Partnership, Natural Resource Governance Institute, Open Society Foundation Oxfam America, ONE Campaign and Publish What You Pay.

Civil society involvement?

One of the key issues around this week’s summit has been the lack of civil society involvement.  As Peter Chapman and Jeggan Grey-Johnson from Open Society Foundations note, civil society is a ‘key ingredient’ if the summit is to realise its goals. To exclude civil society not only contradicts the countries’ stated commitments on good governance, they continue, but would ‘hinder long term success’.  For Oxfam America’s Ian Gary, writing before the summit, not involving civil society would represent a missed opportunity for the White House to ‘demonstrate what citizens engaging with their leaders looks like in practice.’

Addressing participants at the civil society forum, US Vice-President Joe Biden stated that,  “The future of Africa depends every bit as much on those of you who are members of civil society as it does the leaders with whom the president and I will meet tomorrow”. “Civil society”, he continued, “is the lifeblood of democracy”.

Let us hope that this rhetoric translates into action for the next US-Africa leaders summit!

For more:

A tale of two summits: African civil society at the AU and US-Africa summits - Ian Gary, Oxfam America

Ensure Space for Civil Society at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit - Peter Chapman & Jeggan Grey-Johnson

US Vice-President Joe Biden addresses the US-Africa Leaders Summit

Arrest of PWYP activists in Niger

Above is a group photo of members of PWYP Niger/ROTAB, taken in January 2013

Ali Idrissa, coordinator of PWYP Niger, as well as many other activists from the coalition, were arrested on 18th July, the day of French President Hollande’s visit to Niamey. The arrests followed a conference that had called for a peaceful demonstration to express displeasure at some of the aspects of the France – Niger relationship and the AREVA – Niger deal. Mr. Idrissa had called on citizens to come out wearing yellow scarfs to symbolise the country’s ‘yellowcake’. Although the activists were later released, Publish What You Pay remains vigilant.

For more information and coverage:

PWYP & OSIWA statement

The Guardian - Niger activists arrested over AREVA deal before François Hollande’s visit

To find out more about PWYP Niger’s work, watch these two videos: The Woodcutters and Prospect For a Better Future

Constitutional commitment to natural resource governance in Niger: fact or fairy-tale?

Below is a blog from our International Director, Marinke van Riet, where she questions Niger’s commitment to civil society participation in the question of natural resources.

On the eve of French President Hollande’s visit to Niger on Friday July 18, a civil society collective Sauvons le Niger (Let’s save Niger) organised a press conference to express concerns, amongst others, about the recent contractual renegotiations between AREVA and the Nigerien government. An hour later one of their key leaders and EITI International Board member, Ali Idrissa, was taken by the authorities for questioning at the Police Judiciaire in Niamey.  Released  a couple of hours later, at 5AM the next day five police officers kicked Mr Idrissa’s door in, lifted him out of bed to take him once again to the police station. His alleged crime? Creating a national debate about natural resource governance and encouraging people to wear a yellow scarf as a symbol for ‘yellow cake’ during the welcome organised for the French President Francois Hollande to which civil society was officially invited. 

How could a country that was once hailed as one of the innovative leaders in natural resource governance sink this low? 

Read the rest of the blog online

Job Opportunities

Publish What You Pay – Programme Manager

PWYP seeks a Programme Manager who is responsible for the coordination, coherence and harmonisation of Vision 20/20 strategy implementation in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central Asia and Caucasus, Latin America, and Middle East and North Africa by directly supervising regional coordinators and indirectly supporting national coalitions as well as ensuring cross-regional learning and knowledge management.

S/he will ensure the efficient and effective functioning of the PWYP decentralised Secretariat and the organisation of the key (cross-) regional activities, including the regional meetings and where appropriate regional governance meetings (such as the Africa Steering Committee).  S/he will support the International Director and regional coordinators in identifying and developing fundraising opportunities and proposals as well as timely donor reporting.

Deadline – 31st August 2014

For more information and how to apply visit our website

Publish What You Pay - Russian Language Web Editor (part-time consultancy)

Publish What You Pay seeks part-time Web Editor to provide support to the PWYP Secretariat and Eurasia coordinator with finalising the Russian language website and regularly updating it.

Applicants must be enthusiastic and well-organised with experience in working on websites and knowledge of drupal systems. Excellent bi-lingual (English/Russian) capabilities are essential for this position.

The Russian language web editor will report to the PWYP Communications Coordinator, but will also need to work in close cooperation with the PWYP Eurasia Coordinator based in Kiev.
This job is working from home and location can be anywhere, although being based in London or Kiev are advantages.

For more information visit our website

Photo credit: Kate Hiscock, Flickr, available under a Creative Commons License