Campaigning for more accountability: Views from Niger

The population in Niger is among the poorest in the world yet, at the same time, rich in natural resources, particularly uranium, but also petrol and gold.

As part of it’s 10th anniversary, the Publish What You Pay (PWYP) coalition produced the following film about the challenges faced in Niger.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBqQQ3MVnBw

The video shows how the opacity surrounding the extractive sector blocks development. The money the government received for the extraction of a gold mine has been used primarily for buying arms and has probably also gone into the pockets of decision-makers. The population living around the mine 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 mining works, most often children.

A vicious circle that could be broken if stronger transparency rules would apply for companies. Such rules have entered into force recently in the US. Several European companies will have to implement them as well as they are listed on US stock exchanges. This is, however, not the case of French company Areva for instance. Areva is the world leader on nuclear energy and very present in Niger. This is why it is so important that Europe also adopts a strong transparency law.

SEE ALSO: US lays the foundation for global standard on extractives transparency

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 Treasury, the development ministry and the Prime minister’s office. We also organized 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 translate into real change for the citizens of resource-rich countries.