March 9, 2016 By Mohamed Fernando Conteh & Moses A. Kargbo
The 7th Global Conference of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) has ended in the Peruvian capital of Lima with the Sierra Leone delegation – led by the Chief of Staff, Saidu Conton Sesay as the SLEITI Champion – showcasing the country’s enormous potentials in the mining and oil and gas sectors, as well as participating in key discussions on the sidelines of the well-attended two-day meeting.
The conference, which was held on 24 – 25 February at the Lima Convention Center in the province of San Isidro, was preceded by meetings, including that for EITI National Coordinators, where the SLEITI National Coordinator, Mina Horace, shared her experiences with other EITI implementing countries.
The EITI international secretariat holds a global conference at least every three years to provide an international forum for stakeholders to further the objectives of the Initiative. This year’s conference provided an important and visible platform for debate, advocacy, continued fundraising, and inclusion of new EITI stakeholders. Mobilising and sustaining high level coordination, political commitment and momentum to achieve the objective of the EITI Association was another objective of the conference.
This year’s global conference was held under the theme “From Reports to Results”, and the discussions centered on natural resource transparency, and mainstreaming EITI into government and mining company operations, among others.
The conference attracted some 180 participants from 49 implementing countries.
The Sierra Leone delegation was not only in attendance to learn from the conference and share experiences with other EITI implementing countries, but meaningfully participated towards the overall success of the event.
Chief of Staff Saidu Conton Sesay participated in a panel discussion on the topic, “Making the most from Extractives”, which was moderated by Ian Wood, Director of BHP Billiton Foundation. Other panelists include Gunter Nooke, BMX’s Commissioner for Africa and the German Chancellor’s Personal Representative for Africa in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany; Charles Feinstein, Director of Energy and Extractives at the World Bank; Pilar Camero Berrios, Associate and member of the Board of CSO Law, Environmental and Natural Resources; and Isabelle van Notten, Chief Operating Officer for Responsible Mining Index.
The session, designed exclusively for top government officials and multilateral donor partners including mining investors, sought to identify the various elements of a successful extractives sector, including regulatory regimes: the award of contracts and licenses; economic, social and environmental instruments; institutional capacity; and governance and arrangements.
The Chief of Staff told his audience that since signing up to the EITI in 2006, several concrete reform-driven steps have been undertaken by Sierra Leone to continuously improve governance in the extractive sector. He pointed to the enactment of the 2009 Mines and Minerals Act which, he said, introduced the Community Development Agreement Initiative for all large-scale mining companies, noting further that the establishment of the Mining Cadastre System and the Online Repository represented a major step forward towards addressing the challenges in the management of the extractive sector.
Mr. Sesay said that through the National Minerals Agency (NMA) and the National Revenue Authority (NRA), the Government of Sierra Leone has seen a considerable increase in revenue generated from the mineral sector, adding that Sierra Leone – through its regulatory institutions – has prioritised a number of core issues such as monitoring compliance of large and small scale mining activities, promoting the rights of communities through the supervision of compensation for land use, crop compensation, community relocation, and other corporate social responsibility, among others.
Also, Hon. Mohamed Sidie Tunis, a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Mineral Resources in the Sierra Leone Parliament, participated in a ‘Parliamentary Round Table’ debate co-hosted by the EITI international secretariat, UNDP and NRGI.
The discussion was open and revolved around parliamentary oversight functions, including contract transparency. The outcome of the Round Table created an opportunity for continued support and partnership towards empowering parliamentarians to effectively perform oversight functions.
Earlier, the outgoing EITI Chair, Rt. Hon. Clare Short, who stepped down in Lima for Fredrik Reinfeldt, emphasised – in her opening remarks – the importance of mainstreaming EITI into government and mining operations, noting that there was an increasing demand for trust, better information and good governance in the extractive sectors in countries rich in natural resources for the ultimate good of their citizens.
She said EITI has made remarkable success for the benefit of implementing countries and their people, and urged countries to move from recommendations to results. She however noted that an EITI report was not an achievement but rather a means to achieving transparency and accountability in the management of a country’s mineral resources.
Meanwhile, alongside the conference, Sierra Leone showcased its EITI implementation since signing up to the Initiative in 2006. The Sierra Leone EXPO Stand was overwhelmed with guests from other EITI implementing countries to learn from the country’s experience.
Madam Short and the newly appointed EITI Chair, Fredrik Reinfeldt (former Prime Minister of Sweden), both visited the SLEITI EXPO Stand.
Overall, the conference was educative and served as a platform for a renewed commitment to implementing the EITI Standard in the country.