The piece “Eye on Malawi’s EITI: MWEITI at the EITI Global Conference in Lima, Peru” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 35 that is circulating this March 2016.
The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.
MWEITI at the EITI Global Conference in Lima, Peru
By Rachel Etter-Phoya
At the end of February, a delegation of 11 from Malawi involved in the Malawi Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (MWEITI) participated in the 7th EITI Global Conference in Lima, Peru, which takes place every three years. The conference is “a flagship event in natural resource governance”, according to its organisers, and this year stakeholders from over 100 countries gathered to discuss the results of implementing the EITI and how to ensure data on the extractives actually contributes to public debate and better management of resources.
In October last year, Malawi was the 49th country to officially join the EITI; two more countries have since joined and over five made commitments to apply to the initiative during the Global Conference. The focus of the initiative is on transparency in reporting by companies and governments on all kinds of revenue including tax payments, social contributions and signature bonuses.
Nevertheless, “transparency is not an end in itself but a means to an end of better accountability, better governance and better development outcomes” highlighted Aidan Davy of the International Council on Mining and Metals during a panel discussion on multi-stakeholder governance. Making sure that the EITI reports are not an end in themselves was much debated during the conference: how can results be translated into reforms?
The Global Conference commenced with the Members Meeting to approve changes to the Standard and to vote for a new board and chair, and was followed by two days of meetings, discussions and presentations with many side events and the first board meeting of the newly elected board. This was accompanied by a National Exhibition for implementing and supporting countries as well as companies and other related organisations to showcase their work and progress in implementing EITI. Maps produced after the recent airborne geophysical survey were on display at the MWEITI booth along with the MWEITI Scoping Study that provides guidance for the first report and a film especially made to explain MWEITI’s journey to date.
Since the introduction of EITI over a decade ago, data has been collected from participating countries covering cumulatively over 250 years and more than USD 1.8 trillion worth of revenue. This data has informed policy, regulatory and administrative recommendations for improved governance of the sector. For example, it helped Nigeria to identify USD 2.4 billion owed to government from companies and the government was able to recover it. Nevertheless, more work needs to be done to use transparent data for changing the way resources and revenues are managed. In response to this, the Standard itself has been evolving and widening to make sure reports have relevant data.
This has included ongoing debate on the difficulties and imperative of revealing the real owners of extractive companies – which is now a requirement in the new EITI 2016 Standard. Commodity trading and contract transparency were also high on the agenda. Contract transparency is a commitment in the MWEITI work plan.
A South American group of organisations, Red Latinoamericana sobre las Industrias Extractivas, launched the campaign Responsive EITI to broaden the scope of EITI further. The group wants the EITI to include social and environmental data in reports and to contribute to the climate change debate. Such information could include payments made by companies related to climate change and information on social and environmental impacts of extractives projects.
The implementation of the EITI at the national level in Malawi requires a multi-stakeholder approach with equal representation of government, industry and civil society. Building trust and partnering to implement the initiative takes a willingness to learn, patience and time. This is the case for the international EITI board as well. However, this year, concerns were raised by Publish What You Pay, a large civil society network which includes a Malawian coalition, that the EITI board had flouted the rules in the civil society self-selection process for board members and had proceeded with the Members Meeting although there were too few civil society representatives to form the required quorum. This was resolved by the incoming board chair Fredrik Reinfeldt, former Swedish Prime Minister, on the agreement that the new board will review governance processes for the EITI.
The opportunity for MWEITI stakeholders to take an active role in the EITI Global Conference was valuable through learning from other countries especially those with similar sized extractive industries, witnessing that multi-stakeholder governance is vital yet difficult, building our networks for potential collaboration, and sharing what we have done so far in our own journey.
You can watch some of the discussions from the EITI Global Conference here.
The delegation from Malawi included:
- George Harawa – MWEITI National Coordinator, Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development
- Leonard Mushani – MWEITI Secretariat, Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development
- Chikondi Mcheka – Mkango Resources
- Vitima Mkandawire – GIZ/Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development
- Grain Malunga – Malawi Chamber of Mines and Energy
- Kaulungu Simwaka – Malawi Publish What You Pay Coordinator
- Kossam Munthali – Foundation for Community Support Services
- Reinford Mwangonde – Citizens for Justice
- Rachel Etter-Phoya – Citizens for Justice
- Elyvin Nkhonjera Chawinga – Oxfam Malawi
- Lusungu Dzinkambani – Oxfam Malawi