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This is interesting debate between the oil and mining companies. I have been holding Newmont in a different light after visiting their Gold Mining project in Ghana. During the visit, I remained suspect that we were not being told the truth about the company's commitment to transparency and accountability to the Ghananian citizens. I am yet to change that position, until I see real action on the ground. It could be some sweet talking from a senior Director of Newmont i.e. "for your ears only". I state this because I realised there were great concerns about compensation and resettlement of project-affected people in Ghana and issues of environmental pollution that were apparently not being addressed as fast as would have been desired.

This not withstanding, it is a good thing that oil & gas and mining companies are begining to talk about the importance or relevance of EITI. Probably, this could lead to something more position.

 

Other than being enshrined in a small paragraph in Uganda's 2008 Oil & Gas Policy, government technocrats are not keen at operationalising EITI in the country. They claim they would like to do something that is beyond EITI, but are not clear as to what that is or could be. Government of Uganda is currently in the process of developing a Petroleum Exploration, Production and Value Addition Bill/Act (a.k.a "Petroleum Resource Bill") that does not integrate EITI. However, the draft bill mentions the need to promote accountability and transparency in the industry without commitment to the EITI prinicples. Considering the culture of Ugandans of putting in place good laws that they do implement/ enforce, it will not be surprising that such a provision, other than emphasising accountability of finances/ revenues from the industry to government, will be less transparent and the industry will be riddled with corruption. The draft bill in its current state is already riddled with implementation and governance gaps and challenges, which if not addressed or rectified will be a recipe for corruption, abuse of revenues, lack of accountability, political patronage and influence peddling, nepotism, and all the other vices that have characterised the oil & gas industry elsewhere in Africa.

 

I look forward for that moment when our oil & gas industry managers can attain the ethic of refraining from offering "new Mercedes" or "Range Rovers" and other brides to corrupt officials in our government as Chris Anderson claims. That will be the day of sunshine in Africa.

 

The author, Henry Bazira, is the Executive Director of Water Governance Institute & Chairperson of the Civil Society Coalition on Oil & Gas (CSCO) in Uganda