sharing in governance of extractive industries
The 9th of December marks Tanzania’s independence from colonial rule, this is an important milestone that requires celebration. As the country looks back on where it is has come from it is equally important, however, that there be reflection on the future of the country. Tanzania’s economic future will -in part-continue to rely on the growth of the extractive industries. The country is well endowed with gold, diamond, gas and precious gemstones that represent an important global comparative advantage. The country’s natural resources and the revenues derived thereof, can provide a much-needed basis for transformative industrial development and growth. This is clearly understood by the current administration which has consequently sought to rid the extractive sector of corruption.
It is apt and fitting that the International Anti-Corruption Day also falls on the 9th of December. The Tanzanian government has inadvertently come to take upon the role of anti-corruption crusader and has taken a zero tolerance towards corruption in both the public and private sectors. The current ‘crack-down’ on allegedly errant mining companies that are not paying their dues to government is part of a wider anti-corruption effort. The determination that the government of Tanzania has shown in trying to address challenges in the extractive sector must be lauded as African countries have often fallen short of taking the necessary tough decisions to ensure reform.
The scourge of corruption is put in context by the United Nations Development Programme, which states that funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance given to developing countries. Corruption impedes all efforts towards industrialisation and economic growth. Efforts to use extractive resources to improve the social well-being of the poor, through enhanced welfare and social services, are negated by corruption.
To effectively deal with corruption in the extractive sector there is need for improved transparency and accountability with respect to contracting and the administration of contracts. Contracts are particularly important as they often cover different, if not all, phases of extractive resource development including; exploration, exploitation, and closure. It is contracts that determine how much the government and the citizens will get from the exploitation of their extractive resources.
The government also must institute substantive reforms and or implement existing laws. This will ensure that the efforts to rid the sector of corruption and get a fair share for the country are based on institutional reform and grounded in the strict application of the law. In other words, efforts to address challenges in the extractive sector should not be characterised by one scandal after another. Attending to corruption in Tanzania’s extractive sector is made easier by the fact that the country’s legal, policy and institutional framework already provides for transparency and accountability in the administration of extractive industries contracts and revenues.
It is heartening to note that- out of the Presidential Committee Reports- the government, through Parliament, has since passed, three key legislations– The Natural Wealth and Resources (Permanent Sovereignty) Act, 2017 and The Natural Wealth, Resources Contracts (Review and Re-negotiation of Unconscionable Terms) Act, 2017 and The Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, 2017. These legislations have reaffirmed state ownership of and superintendence over extractive resources. The President has also since endorsed the recommendation for disclosure of extractive contracts as put forward by first Presidential Mining Committee to Investigate Copper Concentrate. However, it is more important that these new laws and existing ones be judiciously implemented.
Section 16 of the Tanzania Extractive Industries (Transparency and Accountability) Act provides for the public disclosure of all concessions, contracts and licenses relating to extractive industry companies through a website or through a media which is widely accessible while section 92 of the Petroleum Act also states that the Petroleum Upstream Regulatory Authority (PURA) may, with a written approval of the Minister, make available to the public details of all agreements, licenses, permits and any amendments to the licenses, permits or agreements whether valid or terminated.
As Tanzania celebrates its independence and simultaneously commemorates the International Anti-Corruption day it is imperative for reforms in law and practice with respect to the extractives sector to focus on making contracts public as provided for by the law and endorsed by the President. This would ensure that citizens have much needed information with which to provide public oversight and scrutiny over contractual terms. It would also ensure that anti-corruption efforts address the root causes of corruption.
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