Transparency Required of Extractive industries

STORY 25 PHOTO-Governor Josphat Nanok

STORY 25 PHOTO-Governor Josphat Nanok
A London conference recently called for transparency and accountability by multinational corporations involved in the extractive industry.

Participants attending Chatham House Conference on extractive Industries said multinational companies in the extractive industries in Africa should disclose their contractual agreements to foster transparency.

This debate was sparked off by a presentation on the emerging oil sector in Kenya by Governor Josphat Nanok of Turkana who spoke on the challenges facing the oil companies, the governments and the communities, in Turkana where oil exploration is taking place.

”The oil companies in Kenya do not divulge or share information with the county governments and the communities on their operations. This has strained relations more often leading to protests by communities”, said Nanok.STORY 25 PHOTO-Governor Josphat Nanok2

Governor Nanok told the forum that the debate on the transparency within the extraction industry should be encouraged to mature into practice.
He focused on the Turkana oil experience, a move that was lauded by over two hundred people in the Chatham House audience.

Nanok added that Kenya is cautious and was not willing to turn oil into a curse or the ‘Dutch disease’.
Ian Gary, senior policy manager for extractive industries Oxfam America, said extractive industries should be ready to disclose contractual agreements.
”For the last twelve years, we have been talking about transparency and still doing that, the pace has been too slow”, said Gary.

He cited the Kenyan case. ”Look at the case for the Extractive Industries in Kenya, the contract has still remained between President Kenyatta and the companies”, added Gary.
Gary commended the work done by the World Bank and the civil society that has made it now possible for open discussions on the extractives to take place. He said, initially, the people had very little information on their rights from the extractive industries.
Kerfalla Yansane, the Minister of State for Mines and Geology in the Republic of Guinea said the involvement of the African Development Bank in creating a legal framework for operations of multinational companies may be a relief to Africa in such undertakings.
The debate mainly focused on two aspects of extractive industry; oil exploration and mining in Africa.

While Kenya focused on oil in the wake of falling prices, Rachel Turner, the Director for East and Central Africa Department for International Development, UK, urged the conference to look at the extractive industry in a more holistic manner that would elevate social issues and the participation of women and girls.

”The oil prices situation is not a scare, but it gives us time to focus on other areas. There is a real window of opportunity in capacity building”, said Turner.
Turner disclosed that DFID is now focusing on putting more energies in agribusiness in East and Central Africa.

There was also need that extractive industries respect the fundamental human rights of communities as expressed by Stephane Brabant who is the chairman of African Practice Group and Human Rights Group Herbert Smith Freehills.
The conference focused on new approaches to overcome enduring challenges in the extractive sector in Africa and speakers were drawn from all over Africa with Expert panellists from the academia.

In attendance was the Baroness Scotland of Asthal who chaired the fourth session. She is the President of Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs and the current HMG Envoy to South Africa.

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