On 21st May 2012, the first regional conference for southern and East Africa on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) was held in Cape Town. Jointly organised by the EITI International Secretariat and the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW), the conference brought together representatives from national EITI secretariats, civil society organisations and mining companies from across southern and East Africa.
The conference was attended by Ms Clare Short, Chair of the EITI International Board, and a team from the EITI International Secretariat as well as participants from global organisations, such as the World Bank, Revenue Watch Institute, Open Society Foundations (OSF), Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and ONE.
The overall aim was to evaluate the EITI’s impact on the promotion of transparency and accountability in southern and East Africa. Its specific objectives included:
Explaining the international EITI process, including discussing the emerging strategy;
Sharing lessons learnt and best practises in the implementation of EITI in the region;
Agreeing on messages to take back to the EITI International Board on opportunities and challenges in the region;
Agreeing on mechanisms to help nations in their efforts to become candidate and compliant countries and discussing how best to support these mechanisms;
Discussing deeper and wider processes, which link better to other transparency and accountability initiatives at the international level; and,
Debating the merits of holding an annual event to promote the EITI in the region.
The conference was officially opened by Sisonke Msimang, the Executive Director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), who outlined the rationale behind hosting the EITI conference ahead of the major OpenForum on ‘Money, Power and Sex: The Paradox of Unequal Growth’, which was organised by the four Open Society Africa Foundations from 22-24 May. She stressed that the governance and management of the extractive industries were now at the heart of the debate about Africa’s future.
Msimang said that OSISA had created SARW to produce cutting-edge research, foster policy dialogue and advocate around resource governance in ten countries in southern Africa – namely Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In particular, SARW focuses on encouraging greater transparency and more prudent – and more pro-poor – policies in relation to the exploitation of the region’s wealth of minerals, timber, oil and gas. She added that SARW has always been a firm supporter of the EITI and had provided technical and financial support to EITI secretariats in countries such as DRC and Zambia – and was keen to promote the adoption of EITI in every country in the region.
Dr Claude Kabemba, Director of SARW, then outlined the institution’s support for the EITI in the region and listed the key objectives of the conference. He also stressed the need to shift the mode of engagement by key stakeholders to ensure that mining companies were part of the process and were encouraged to actively participate – and pointed to the positive reaction from some companies, which had sent representative to the conference.