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Friday, July 1, 2022

Western Rural District stakeholders discuss SLEITI 2019 report

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

The Sierra Leone Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (SLEITI) on Tuesday, May 24, engaged Stakeholders in the Western Rural District to discuss their 2019 report.

The engagement, which took place at the Western Rural District Council Office in Waterloo,  with the theme: ‘Promoting Sustainable Development Through a Transparent and Accountable Extractive Sector’, brought together stakeholders including, councilors, chiefs, civil society organisations, teachers, pupils, security sectors and others.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is a global standard to promote open and accountable management of natural resources. It seeks to strengthen government and company systems for informed public debates, and enhance trust.

In each implementing country including Sierra Leone, the EITI it is supported by a coalition of governments, companies operating in the extractive sector and civil society organisations working together.

However, the government of Sierra Leone first announced its intention to join the EITI programme in June 2006, to promote transparency and accountability in the management of its mineral resources.

The country formed its first multi-stakeholder group (MSG), the Sierra Leone EITI Steering Committee (SLEITI) in June 2007 and Sierra Leone became an EITI candidate in February 2008 and it became a compliant country in 2014.

Speaking at the event, the Deputy Chairman of the Western Rural District, Robert A. Browne, said his district as one of the largest in the country and that they also have mining activities and their major source of income is sand mining and quarry.

He said it was good that the SLEITI engaged the district on  what they captured in their 2019 report that will inform the people in that part of the country about what the country is gaining from the mining industry.

Representative of the Civil Society, Princess Yambasu, said as civil society activists, they are always curious about issues that has to do with transparency and accountability, noting that their work is to ensure that every region and Sierra Leonean benefit from revenue from the industry.

Representing the Minister of State at the Vice President Office, Prince Williams, said President Julius Maada Bio in Senegal assured that his administration would ensure that everybody benefits from proceeds of the mineral resources.

He said recently the government did a geographical survey that shows where the various mineral are located in the country, noting that the process will help mining companies to know where the minerals are and also prevent destruction of lands in the name of looking for minerals.

In his presentation, the National Coordinator of SLEITI, Mohamed Baimba Koroma said in 2019, the extractive industry contributed US$399 million to the national revenue, noting that the rutile mineral contributed the highest with US$150,420,567.

He further  stated that diamond contributed the second highest with over $98 million, third bauxite with over $72 million, iron ore over $56 million, ilmenite mineral over $11 million, gold over $8 million and zircon mineral over $1.8 million.

He continued that in 2019 the country made total exports amounted to $418 million and the export revenue for diamond was over $164 million, rutile over $143 million, bauxite over $63 million, zircon over $15 million, iron ore, over $13 million, ilmenite over $9 million and gold over $8 million all to the total of $417,963,389 million.

He said they recommended that the SLEITI Multi Stakeholders Group MSG should document its discussion on what constitutes government policy on contract disclosures by identifying ongoing reforms or new measures under discussion that could strengthen or threaten the availability of contract information, the SLEITI MSG should then address any obstacles and challenges in adopting full contract transparency as required by the EITI Standard requirement.

And finally, the SLEITI MSG should develop a roadmap for strengthening the disclosures of extractive contracts, which include actions, responsible parties, timelines, resource and technical assistance needs.

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