CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS CALL FOR TRANSPARENCY IN THE EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRY
However, civil societies warn that this could either be a blessing or a curse depending on how stakeholders handle this newfound wealth. WWF is working with CSOs across East Africa to ensure harmonious utilization of these resource and cordial coexistence between human beings and nature.
The Civil Society groups are urging players in the mining sector and the Government to enhance transparency, responsibility, accountability and good governance in the industry to ensure sustainable utilization of these resources.
They were speaking at a conference held in Nairobi on 4/12/12. The conference, dubbed "Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative" (EITI) was convened by WWF Kenya Country Office through the Coastal East Africa Initiative. The objective of the conference was to explain to the public and civil society organizations about Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative and how to participate effectively in it.
In attendance were representatives from the Kenya Government, the National Oil Corporation of Kenya, WWF, Kenya Oil Gas Working Group, and Community Action for Nature Conservation and Transparency International among others.
Director WWF Kenya Country Office Mr. Mohamed Awer promised continued support to the civil society movement in Kenya but emphasized that leadership of the movement must come from the movement itself.
“You are the watchdog of society and keep up the good work you are doing to prevent exploitation of natural resources by the elites at the expense of the locals,” noted Mr. Mohamed.
A representative from Transparency International called for an effective mult-isectoral approach to harvesting of natural resources including the Government, the mining companies, locals and the civil society.
“Politicians must be true in explaining the harvesting of natural resources. All contracts must be posted on all media including websites to enhance transparency, responsibility, accountability and good governance. The Government must avail all information on their contracts with oil gas companies in good time to allow the CSOs to interrogate it further. The mining industry must publish what they pay,” said the representative.
Mr. Peter Kazungu, chairman of Kipini Division Oil Gas Sensitization Group, Tana River County welcomed the EITI and noted that the common man would only benefit if all stakeholders worked together.
“If all players in this industry are involved and there is transparency in planning and implementation of oil and gas programs hostilities like the ones that happened in 1961 when some companies came and started surveys and exploration will be avoided,” he said.
Kenya has been urged to join EITI to promote openness and accountability in the oil, gas and mining sector. This will make it easier to address challenges associated with extractive industry including deadly confrontations as witnessed in the DRC and Nigeria.
EITI has set rules and requirements that detail what candidate countries must do to join, achieve and maintain compliance with the initiatives global standards for reporting extractive revenues.
By Johnstone Mulary
WWF Kenya Country Office