ONE has welcomed new measures proposed today by the European Commission that will help put an end to the resource curse that has blighted so many African countries. The new regulations will mean that extractive and logging companies will have to publish details of their financial activities for every mining, oil, gas and forestry project in every country they operate in. However, ONE has also stressed that the proposals must be tightened before they are implemented by member states.
Reacting to the proposals, ONE's co-founder Bono said:
"This is a serious step forward by Barroso and Barnier, who have thrown their weight behind the fight by the citizens of poor countries to ensure their natural resource wealth turns into actual wealth for the people - and doesn't line the pockets of dodgy dictators or distant exploiters. The next step is when the great activist himself, Bill Gates Jnr, presents the case for these legally binding measures to the world leaders of the G20, along with other historic proposals on financing the fight against poverty."
ONE's Brussels Director Eloise Todd said:
"The global campaign for transparency in the oil, gas and mining industries took another major step forward today. Activists that have been kept in the dark will have access to information which will tell them the extent to which citizens could, and should, be benefitting from the sale of their country's natural resources.
"President Barroso and Commissioner Barnier have shown real leadership. It is now the responsibility of the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament to ensure that these proposals are implemented in full, which we trust will happen given the strong support from the French, British and the European Parliament . In some areas we will look to the Council and Parliament to tighten up the regulation, for example in removing the exemption for countries that would rather keep information secret. It is also essential that the provisions on project-level disclosure are strengthened. The murky deals between extractive companies and despots must become a thing of the past. The EU and its companies will now have to decide which side of history they want to be on."
Joe Cerrell, Director of the Europe Office at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, added:
"Enforcing transparency in the oil and mining sectors will go a long way in enabling developing countries to increase the money they earn to finance their fight against hunger and disease. This is one of many specific recommendations Bill Gates will make to the G20, alongside a call for more innovation, more partnerships and greater mobilization of domestic resources to raise financing for development."
The amount of money at stake is staggering. In 2008 exports of oil, gas and minerals from the continent were worth roughly nine times the value of international aid and more than 10 times the value of exports of agricultural produce.
In Equatorial Guinea, an extreme example of what can go wrong, a lack of transparency in the oil sector has been a factor in extreme inequality. In 2010, GDP per capita in Equatorial Guinea was US$35,000, similar to the UK and greater than Japan. However three-quarters of its people live on less than a dollar a day and the infant mortality rate is more than 100 deaths per 1000 births - the fourth worst in the world. At the same time the President's son just last month had several luxury cars impounded in Paris.
Greater transparency is a key part in the drive to tackle this irresponsible behaviour. This proposed legislation keeps up the momentum for a global transparency standard, following the passage of a similar US law in July 2010. These rules will allow African citizens to find out how much money is coming in to their countries in return for the resources that lie beneath their feet and give them the information they need to hold their governments to account.
Notes to editors:
ONE is a global grassroots advocacy and campaigning organisation backed by more than 2.5 million people that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease. For more information please visit www.ONE.org
In 2008 exports of oil, gas and minerals from the continent were worth $393-billion compared with $44-billion coming into the country in international aid. Agricultural produce was worth $37.9-billion.
Bill Gates will present his report on development financing to G20 leaders on Thursday 3rd November in Cannes.