By Yusufu S. Bangura
Sierra Leone Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (SLEITI) has on Wednesday presented the final assessment report to cabinet ministries and heads of agencies where Sierra Leone scored 87.5% in implementing the 2019 EITI Standard report.
The event was held at D’Bim D’ Bim multipurpose hall, Upper Wellington Street in Freetown, with the theme ‘EITI validation, a pathway to enhance transparency and accountability in the extractive sector’.
Doing a power point presentation, National Coordinator for SLEITI, Mohamed Bambia Koroma said the validation report is an assessment done by EITI international secretariat to look at the progress made by countries in implementing the EITIE standard, which has 33 individual requirements.
He said in the 2018 validation report, they scored meaningful progress with 74% but this year they made another validation where the country scored 87.5%, so the meeting was to present the report to stakeholders on the outcomes, findings and recommendations of the report.
He continued that the overall score reflects an average of the three component scores on stakeholder engagement, transparency, and outcomes and impact.
The National Coordinator for SLEITI said when the validation process started they were pleased that they were going to score high on beneficiary ownership, but they were disappointed that they scored low because in 2018, President Bio made a pronouncement that he would improve the beneficiary ownership as part of the mining laws in the country, but they did not meet the standard at that time.
He promised to work on the areas they scored low by engaging various institutions to ensure that they establish a registered document that would host company information for beneficiary ownerships, and that they would send beneficiary owner’s template to the extractive companies for the corrective actions to be implemented before the next validation.
He said the next validation will commence on 1st January 2025 for Sierra Leone to carry out their corrective actions regarding contract and license allocations, beneficial ownership, production data, export data, disaggregation, and revenue distribution.
“President Bio was very pleased with the report because we scored 87.5% as Sierra Leone is among other countries that scored high mark. We have done well. As an institution, we are very proud to score 87.5% which shows that we are getting support from the government and partners. It also gives a positive signal to investors who want to come and invest in the country because they know they Sierra Leone is safe,” he said.
Project Coordinator for Extractive Industries Technical Assistance Project (EITAP), Mustapha Sheku Gibril said the overall score was announced on the 12th October 2022 at the 54 EITI board meeting held in Oslo, Norway.
He said with funding from World Bank, they provided financial support to the validation processes which resulted to the achievement made by the country, adding that over the years they have supported governance and management reforms of the extractive sector.
Gibril said the 87.5% shows that key project objectives in compliance with set standards on transparency and accountability in the payments made in oil, gas and mining sector, were met to eliminate all forms of corruption in those areas because they were disclose among other things.
“We are proud of our contributions to optimizing gains from the mines and minerals sectors for the country and we hope that the government would build on these achievements to deepen efforts that would make Sierra Leone a great destination for foreign direct investment,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of Chamber of Mines, Hussine Yilla said the Chamber of mines is a group of mining companies collectively working together on mining sector issues.
She said they provided opportunities for the common good and support the government agencies on responsible mining in the country, adding that they also support the common principle of SLEITI based on promoting transparency and accountability in extractive industries in the country through data collation, verification and reporting.
She continued that the chamber collaborates with ministries, departments agencies, CSOs and the media in ensuring that Sierra Leone adheres to the EITI reporting standards as demonstrated by the recent achievement made in implement the 2019 EITI standard.
“Most notably, industry engagement scored 90% which shows that the chamber is committed to the entire process. So I want to commend the government for making SLEITI secretariat a priority and ensuring Sierra Leone remains compliant with EITI standards,” she said.
Giving the keynote address, Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, Kenei Lamin said the validation process started way back in 2007, when SLEITI was launched and he referred to the institution as a baby, taking into effect they have only existed for 15 years.
He said Sierra Leone had its first report in 2008, which was produced by Adam Smith International, adding that as a ministry, they were very happy about the tremendous progress made so far, but called on the necessary stakeholders to improve on the 87.5% in the next validation.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is the global standard to promote the open and accountable management of oil, gas and mineral resources.
The EITI standard requires the disclosure of information along the Extractive industry value chain from the point of extraction to how revenues make their way through the government and how they benefit the public, by doing so, the EITI seeks to strengthen public and corporate governance, promote an understanding of natural resources management and provide the data to inform reforms for great transparency and accountabilities in the extractive sectors.