September 28, 2020
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
The Sierra Leone Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (SLEITI), last Thursday, September 24 concluded their nationwide sensitization and dissemination of their 2017 and 2018 reports in Freetown, with the theme ‘maximizing the benefits of mining to local communities.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is a global standard for the good governance of oil, gas and mineral resources. It seeks to address the key governance issues in the extractive sectors and Sierra Leone became a member in 2007.
Sierra Leone joined the EITI to promote transparency and accountability in the management of its minerals and oil/gas sectors and later established the SLEITI Multi-Stakeholder Group comprising government ministries, mining companies and civil society representatives, to oversee the SLEITI process.
It could also be recalled that very few individuals have benefited from the mineral of the country since the discovery of minerals in Sierra Leone in the 1930s.
Speaking at the event at the Buxton Memorial Hall on Charles Street in Freetown, chairman of event, Daniel Gbondo, opined that it is important for transparency and accountability in the management of mineral resources in the country for the benefit of all.
He said government has over the years instituted the way things are properly done in the mining sector.
He said the theme of the event reminds him of the poverty that continues to stink in mining communities that are supposed to be enjoying basic facilities.
He said cooperate social responsibilities of those mining companies have been mismatch and that many companies have reported corporrate social responsibility outside the communities they operate.
He said the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources is currently reviewing the Mining and Minerals Act to ensure that mining communities benefit from the CRS, stating that transparency and accountability have always been a challenge in the mining sector, which is why the government is working very hard to address it.
He said mining communities should be seen benefiting from basic amenities like pipe borne water, electricity, good roads, hospitals, schools and others, noting that critical work they were doing now at the ministry is to review the Mines and Minerals Act to ensure beneficial ownership .
Speaking on behalf of civil society organizations, Cecilia Mattia, said the CSOs were the people who stated the EITI process in the country and urged the then President Ahamed Tejan Kabba to ensure that the country joins EITI process .
She said since then they have been working tirelessly to ensure that they promote transparency and accountability in the mining sector, by reaching communities across the country to let them know the process.
She said the CSO is strongly part of the process and will always continue to be for the good of every Sierra Leone.
Representing the Chamber of Mines,Madam Kumba Fekah said they were happy to be part of the process , noting that they too wanted to see transparency and accountability in the sector.
She said they were following due diligence in honouring their obligations as mining companies.
A member of the Multi Stakeholder Group, Murray Lansana said the mining sector is contributing immensely to the government’s coffer, adding that it is high time Sierra Leoneans came together to harness the betterment in the mining sector for the general good.
In his presentation, National Coordinator of SLEITI, Mohamed B. Koroma says the SLEITI fosters transparency and accountability, attracts investment opportunities by improving investment climate, contributes to public debate and ensures that citizens are better informed and involved in mining processes.
He said the impact of the EITI in Sierra Leone is that it provides platform for debates on the management of the extractive sector and also contributing to reforms in the sector.
He said the SLEITI data available aid Civil society in their advocacy work, greater accountability by the Government, companies, made Mining Contract Transparent, improved coordination amongst state entities and capacity building efforts leading to better understanding of the sector.
In his presentation titled ‘Maximizing the benefits of Mining to the Local’s, Commination Officer at SLEITI Mohamed Fanado Conteh says the mining sector can bring significant economic benefits to a country including generating fiscal revenue and export earnings, relieving constraints to investment.
He also stated that its drive economic growth and job creation and contribute to building physical infrastructure.
He said revenue from the extractive industry can account for a large proportion of fiscal revenue.
He said Sierra Leone revenue from the mining sector increased from 149 billion Leones (0.5%) of the GDP in 2017 to 222.7 billion Leones (0.7%) of the GDP in 2018, noting that the increase was as a result of improved collection of mineral royalties and license.
He further noted that the real GDP growth was estimated at 3.8 percent in 2017 and 3.5 percent in 2018.