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Transparency trickles down...Berlin

James Martone's picture
   

The Democratic Republic of the Congo was accepted as an EITI Candidate Country in 2008.

In April, I was sent to an EITI conference in Germany to question participants for an upcoming World Bank video.  I didn’t know much about EITI and its multi-donor trust fund which the World Bank manages, so I did a lot of reading on the plane from Washington, and was in place and ready the next day with cameraman Axel Goppelt outside the main doors of the conference hall in Berlin.

We interviewed EITI country members and representatives of countries supporting EITI, as well as NGO’s intent on securing social and environmental rights of people living in nations dependant on natural resources like minerals, gas, oil and timber.  We also interviewed private companies involved in extracting these resources.

The views were many, some conflicting, others not.  You will find those details in the upcoming video, so stay tuned to the EITI-MDTF website!!

But what I can say now is that everyone agreed on the necessity of getting governments and extractive industry companies to publish their financial transactions, as a way of preventing- or at least locating- corruption.

And almost every one interviewed expressed his or her hope that such transparency could eventually trickle down into more prosperity among the general populaces of the countries involved.

Wow! Wouldn’t that be great? I immediately thought of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where I was for WDR 2011 last February. “Our country is rich in minerals,” men and women on the street had kept telling me the whole time I was there.  “Then why are most Congolese so poor,” I’d kept thinking in return.

     Yemen was accepted as an EITI Candidate country in 2007.

The same goes for Yemen where I was last year reporting for the World Bank’s Broadcast and Multi-Media Unit, and where Yemenis complained that though their country was rich in oil, they and their families were only “getting poorer.”

It is no secret that both the DRC and Yemen have suffered from years of deeply embedded corruption.  Ongoing military conflict in the two countries has only allowed this fraud and corruption to get even deeper.

So the fact that both countries are actively seeking to become so-called “compliant” members of EITI is no small deal, to say the least.
 
Among the other countries requesting EITI validation are Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Sierra Leone, and Timor Leste.  Mongolia is an EITI candidate and so is Chad as of last week’s conference.

Liberia and Azerbaijan are the only two countries so far to have passed the ultimate EITI test; they are compliant, meaning they’ve disclosed the financial records related to the extraction of their natural resources (minerals and timber in Liberia, oil and gas in Azerbaijan).

Oh, and Norway.  Norway?  Yes, Norway is a candidate for compliancy as well as a country supporter of EITI, making it somewhat special…and making me wonder why some other developed nations supporting EITI are not submitting their transactions for validation as well! (You can find the list of supporting countries and other information on EITI on its website and at EITI Rules).

Comments

First, I would like to thank you for your excellent blog. For those of us, who work w/the EITI every day, it is good to see it from a fresh perspective. Walking the halls here, EITI is an acronym you hear several times a day. Second, Anwar Ravat, EITI-MDTF Program Manager, has asked me to be the point person to gather material for the EITI documentary. As such, I have created a Scoop site to assemble the inputs. I invite readers to check out the site at: http://community.worldbank.org/pg/groups/128595/extractive-industries-transparency-initiative-eiti-worka-documentary/

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