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In brief

Voices from the field - Afghanistan

The image comes from Wikimedia Commons, it is of the Badakshan Province in Afghanistan, which has considerable mining reserves

Afghanistan is incredibly rich in natural resources, with an estimated 1 trillion dollars’ worth of minerals. It also however has one of the world’s highest rates of corruption, which does not augur well for the responsible use of its mineral wealth.

But Afghanistan’s citizens aren’t waiting to see whether their country will fall prey to the resource curse. They’re busy campaigning to ensure a transparent and responsible management of their resources.

We spoke to one of our members from Afghanistan Integrity Watch about his work, and this is what he had to say

“During my masters in India, I did an internship at the right to information commission in India. I was going through files and saw one about a woman who had had little education but had sent questions through the right to information act. She asked the district magistrate, which is the highest level of bureaucracy in the district, to provide her information. She said that when she went to their office all the bureaucrats were running after her trying to explain and show her the information she’d requested. She felt very empowered by this and that’s where I was inspired. So when I got the chance to work with Integrity Watch Afghanistan I didn’t even think twice about it.

In our context transparency is very critical, because a lot of the decisions are made in dark rooms where no information is shared with the people."

… visit our site to read the rest of his piece

The image comes from Wikimedia Commons, it is of the Badakshan Province in Afghanistan, which has considerable mining reserves

EITI Launch in the UK

On Tuesday 9th July the UK EITI launch took place at the Department for Business. Attending was our PWYP UK coordinator, Miles Litvinoff, who wrote this blog about the event:

The UK EITI – reasons to be cheerful

It was a surprise to some of us to learn in January this year that the UK government was considering committing to implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative(EITI), after holding off for so long. Six months later, with the joint UK and French announcement and the G8 Summit behind us, this step appears fully consistent with the good intentions behind PM David Cameron’s championing of extractives transparency and the Open Government agenda. Publish What You Pay is very much on record as welcoming these developments, while recognising the crucial need for duty-bearers’ delivery to match their rhetoric.

But how much is there to get excited about? At this week’s Department for Business UK EITI launch, UK Business Minister and EITI Champion Jo Swinson, EITI Chair Clare Short, and EITI Secretariat Deputy Head Eddie Rich made a good case. All agreed on the EITI’s international importance, especially now that its revised rules have brought it into line with the global transparency standard set by the US Dodd-Frank Act’s Section 1504 and the EU’s Accounting and Transparency Directives. It’s important for the UK to be seen to walk its transparency talk, and to be a trailblazer via its own EITI process in areas like open access to data and usability which will help add value in other country contexts.

Clare Short also highlighted the potential usefulness of a national debate on issues such as resource sustainability, fairness and future energy security, and the entrenchment of transparency as a national norm.

Participants at the launch discussed the benefits and issues surrounding a UK EITI in breakout groups, and several civil society reps met afterwards to consider CSOs’ input into the Multi-Stakeholder Group, which should be as broad as possible.

I would not expect the UK EITI to bring to light major current resource revenue governance problems, which Diarmid O’Sullivan’s recent report on the EITI in Liberia and Timor Leste identifies as the EITI’s potential key benefit in resource-dependent developing countries. Nor does it seem likely to address the UK’s lack of progress towards a low-carbon economy or the harmful growing gulf between rich and poor in the UK. But in the global context, UK implementation is likely to help bring more countries into the EITI fold and, who knows, lead them to introduce mandatory reporting requirements as well.

And as Eddie Rich pointed out, we might use the UK process to assess what the UK has done right or not so right in managing North Sea oil, drawing out broader lessons not just for our own society but to help countries such as those in East Africa that are now developing hydrocarbon policies. The UK EITI could also offer an opportunity to consider the environmental costs versus the economic benefits of fracking.

Investigation into the Malabu oil deal

A representative from the European Union delegation in Nigeria has stated that an investigation will be carried out into the Malabu oil case in Nigeria, which has been shrouded in confusion and suspicion for over a decade.

Also investigating the case is the UK. The Political Secretary to the British High Commission in Nigeria informed Publish What You Pay Nigeria that the Proceeds of Crime Unit in the UK was already investigating the case.

PWYP Nigeria and the Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC) had written a letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron, calling on the British government to investigate the deal.

They highlighted the UK’s links to the case: both companies involved (Shell and ENI) are listed on the London Stock Exchange and some of the money flowed through the British banking system.

The British High Commission in Nigeria accepted the letter on behalf of the British Government. It was at this meeting that PWYP Nigeria was told the UK was in the process of investigating the Malabu oil case.

This case concerns the oil block OPL245 in Nigeria, estimated to contain as much as 9 billion barrels of oil. In other words, as The Economist put it, ‘enough to keep all of Africa supplied for seven years.’

It was originally awarded in 1999, by then Oil Minister Dan Etete, to the company Malabu Oil & Gas for a $20 million signature bonus (although the company only paid out $2 million of that bonus). It is widely suspected that Malabu Oil & Gas is in fact owned by Dan Etete. Effectively, Etete was awarding himself the block.

After various to’ing and fro’ing over the years, ENI and Shell paid $1.3 billion to the Nigerian government in 2011 for the block. The Nigerian government then transferred the money (minus the decade late signature bonus) to Malabu Oil & Gas.

According to Global Witness, who originally broke the story and has been investigating the case, the process was probably set up in this way so that Shell and ENI had a layer between themselves and Malabu Oil & Gas.

This Economist article gives a good overview of where the money might have ended up. It’s perhaps easier to start by talking about where the money hasn’t ended up, which is that it hasn’t ended up being used to build schools, to build hospitals or develop infrastructure.  That’s $1.3 billion which could have been used to benefit citizens in a country where 100 million people live below the poverty line.

If Shell and ENI knew that the ultimate destination of their payment was Malabu and Etete they could fall foul of anti-corruption legislation in their home countries.

In early July PWYP Nigeria sent letters to the Italian and Dutch governments, calling on them to investigate the deal. At a meeting with the EU delegation in Nigeria, an EU representative confirmed the deal would be looked into. 

For more on this topic, visit Global Witness’ site and read this article in the Economist.

This image comes from Photobucket.

Learning from each other – exchange visit between Togo and Nigeria

We’ve always said that our strength lies in our members - a coalition is successful because it enables us to become more than the sum of our parts. Few things illustrate that better than when our members learn from each other. After all, that’s what being a coalition is all about: sharing experiences and knowledge, advising each other, exchanging lessons learned. In doing all those things we can avoid the duplication of errors, increase our efficiency and draw strength from each other in our long battle for transparency and justice.

So this week we’re thrilled to tell you a little about an exchange visit between PWYP members in Nigeria and the coalition in Togo. Four Nigerian delegates, a representative from CISLAC, one from the regional West African Civil Society Forum and two journalists, visited Togo to learn more about the work being done by the Togolese coalition.

The visit, from 24th – 28th June 2013, was a busy one. On the 25th the two groups met with Togolese parliamentarians working on extractive issues. Among other things, the Nigerian delegation explained how EITI had been legislated in their country and the advantages which this brings. As a result, PWYP Togo now aims to work with parliamentarians to see how they can push for an EITI law to be enacted in the country.

It was a foray in the field on the 26th for the delegation, as they went on site to visit the company WACEM (West Africa Cement). The company confirmed it had been compliant with the EITI process. WACEM also stated that they had paid 3 billion CFA for the construction of the road Tsevié-Tabligbo-Aneho, but as yet the road has not be fixed. In a joint statement following the visit, Togo and Nigeria PWYP members called on the government to accelerate the process of reconstructing the road section, using the funds WACEM has already disbursed.

On June 27, the Togo-Nigeria delegation met with the EITI Togo Secretariat’s technical staff. There they exchanged on how EITI reports are disseminated throughout the countries and the role journalists play in this.

Following all of these meetings, PWYP Togo and CISLAC issued a joint statement detailing the visit and setting out a series of recommendations for parliamentarians, government and civil society. You can access this statement on our site.

The Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal I.Musa, had this to say about the trip:

“CISLAC as an active member of the PWYP is spearheading a regional Advocacy experience exchange visit to West African Countries to learn and share experiences with relevant stakeholders on the EITI engagements. This enables many CSOs to deepen their involvement on EITI process and hold governments and companies to be more accountable and responsive.

So far CISLAC ‘s visits to many West African countries have helped to build partnership and synergy to effectively and constructively engage all the relevant stakeholders to play key and positive role in ensuring EITI implementation and compliance in the region.

It is also a good opportunity to strengthen PWYP members in the region to have a common and solid view on their approach to EITI process. We hope to document all the learning in these visitations and share with all stakeholders.”