sharing in governance of extractive industries

A Golden Opportunity for Burkina Faso and the Sahel

From 5.7% to 62.9% of all exports in three years.

This statistic, cited at a recent meeting of the Burkinabe Parliamentarian Network for Good Governance in Mining, speaks to the crucial importance of the mining sector in Burkina Faso, as gold is swiftly and increasingly overtaking other important exports including cotton. This landlocked country in West Africa has quietly become Africa’s 4th largest gold producer, due in large part to the important mine at Essakane, and is also leading the West African region in gold exploration.

As in many countries blessed with such resources, however, natural richness often goes hand in hand with endemic poverty among the Burkinabe people. This is due in part to the nature of the mining industry, as mines take significant time to become fully operational – for example, the population will not fully receive the taxes and royalties of Burkina’s Bomboré mine, currently the country’s “largest undeveloped gold deposit,” until it is in its 9th year of production. In addition, the governance challenges related to the mining sector – including increasing transparency or access to information related to contracts or execution, as well as avoiding cases of corruption – further exacerbate the divide.

In this context a group of Burkinabe CSOs focused on the extractive industries has been working to improve their credibility and ability to engage with counterparts from the public and private sectors around these issues. As part of a recent five-country contract monitoring project supported by the World Bank Institute (WBI) and Revenue Watch Institute (RWI), the Burkina coalition investigated the issue of local content in the mining sector by monitoring two mines, Essakane and Kalsaka, to determine whether the companies were meeting employment obligations. The study found that – though the two companies were beholden to two different mining codes given the time lapse between contract awards – both the companies were, indeed, meeting and even exceeding their respective requirements. In the case of Essakane, 91% of the employees were Burkinabe nationals and of that 40.5% were from the local community.

Despite the positive findings, several challenges surfaced through the project remain, particularly in terms of access to information, government supervision of mining activities, and Burkinabe access to managerial positions. The report thus also included several recommendations to further improve the situation, including more effective government oversight, better organization and availability of relevant data, and increased communication between the companies and the local communities. More information on the project findings can be found here.

This report was well received not only by civil society but also by representatives of the mining companies as well as the Ministries of Mines and of Employment. As such the project served above all to reinforce the credibility of civil society in the eyes of both the government and the private sector, which is further supported by the recent creation of the Parliamentarian Network. This credibility will serve to facilitate and enhance dialogue among the different parties moving forward, allowing them to work together to help the population see the benefits of the mining sector.

This focus is in fact an overarching theme that emerged from the twelve countries that recently participated in a workshop in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso – all of whom echoed the need for communities and citizens to see the effect of extraction through improved development outcomes. RWI brought together civil society representatives from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Republic of Congo, and Togo, for a training on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) – “a global coalition of governments, companies and civil society working together to improve openness and accountable management of revenues from natural resources” – and its new norm passed in summer 2013 to help address such issues of governance and employment in the aim of improving benefits for citizens.

To further this effort and address the governance challenges common to this sector, WBI’s Open Contracting and Governance for Extractive Industries team is collaborating with the World Bank’s Burkina Country Office on an emerging Mining Growth Pole project, of which a key issue is the creation of jobs resulting both directly and indirectly from the exploitation of the Essakane mine. The project also reinforces the aims of the Country Partnership Strategy, which includes an explicit focus on governance, and the overall Project Development Objective is directly related to the issue of local content, aiming “to increase benefits accruing to... communities from mining sector growth.” The Pole aims to use this opportunity to expand the zone of stability and prosperity further north toward the border with Mali, supporting the longer-term development of the broader area.

This need is clearly reflected as well in the recent announcement of the Sahel Initiative by the World Bank, which along with the United Nations and the European Union has pledged several billion dollars toward “boosting economic growth and lifting people out of devastating poverty in Africa’s hard-hit Sahel region.” The Bank’s contribution will focus in part on increasing economic opportunities in six of the countries included in the Ouagadougou workshop, with the aim of improving stability in the region to ultimately decrease poverty and boost shared prosperity – and the extractive sector will clearly play a leading role in this effort.

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Comment by Lacina Pakoun on December 16, 2013 at 21:19

Hi Carey, I would have wished the aim of this initiative is transfused into the yet to be adopted mining code.


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