ONE has been advocating for a long time for the transparency of the petrol, mining and gas sector. Fortunately, we are not alone fighting for more transparency, but we are part of a large civil society coalition, “Publish what you pay” (PWYP), with more than 600 member organisations across the globe from Australia to Zambia. To mark the occasion of PWYP’s 10th anniversary, the coalition has produced a video that showcases the work of one of its national platforms, from Niger in West Africa.
The population in Niger is among the poorest in the world. At the same time, Niger is rich in natural resources, particularly uranium, but also petrol and gold. The video shows that the population living around the mine that generates billions of West African Francs remains as poor as it did before. To make things worse, the gold extraction has dangerous consequences for the environment and for the health of miners, many of which are children.
Niger is part of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and publishes the payments as reported by the companies and the revenues as recorded in the public accounts. However, the reports are not very detailed, payments for instance can’t be tracked back to specific projects or even specific commodities, the quality of the data is contested and the reports are not published in a very timely manner.
This is why civil society in Niger is closely following what is happening in the US and in Europe. Strong transparency rules for the extractive sector have entered into force recently in the US. Several European companies listed on US stock exchanges will have to implement them as well. However, this does not apply to, for example, French company Areva, which is the world leader on nuclear energy and very present in Niger. Therefore it is so important that Europe also adopts a strong transparency law. These laws will generate more timely and detailed data and increase transparency and hopefully also put additional pressure on governments and multinationals to be more accountable to their citizens. Transparency is not the objective in itself, but the means to a more effective use of public finance for development.
Ali Idrissa, the PWYP coordinator in Niger, was in France two weeks ago to support our efforts and help us support an ambitious EU law. Together with other African platforms, we met representatives from the Treasury, the Development Ministry and the Prime Minister’s office. We also organised a joint press conference. The aim was to show that the fight for transparency and against corruption has support all around the world and that a European law would help citizens in resource-rich countries to hold their governments to account.
Please keep up the fight for a strong EU transparency law that fights corruption by signing our petition.
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