Image placeholder

GHEITI Offers Guidance on Extractives Contract Disclosure in Ghana

Disclosing contracts is one of the most important steps that Ghana can take to promote transparency of its extractive sector. At least 39 countries now disclose contracts. Since 2013, the EITI standard has “encouraged” implementing countries to publish contacts. Prepared by the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) and the Natural Resource Governance Institute, this brief explores issues surrounding contract disclosure in detail and suggests four specific steps for the path ahead.
1. Encourage discussion. Government should work with companies and civil society to identify specific user needs and concerns relating to disclosure. This will ensure that disclosures are optimized to bring benefits to all parties. Given their multi-stakeholder set-up, GHEITI and the Public Interest Accountability Committee could be useful forums for this discussion.  

2. Establish disclosure rules. Government should work to establish effective disclosure rules as soon as possible. For the petroleum sector, regulations provide a timely opportunity to put disclosure commitments in law. Other important opportunities that could also target mining sector disclosures are presented by the Freedom of Information Bill, the GHEITI bill, and proposals to update the Minerals and Mining Act and create a Minerals Revenue Management Act. 

3. Make contracts accessible. Government should build a disclosure regime that makes contracts and associated documents easy to find, search, browse and use. This should include publication of electronic copies of contracts online with paper-based options to increase accessibility for communities lacking Internet access. Best practice would involve the creation of a dedicated online “one-stop-shop” bringing together disclosures with respect to each extractive project made by different government institutions, including sector ministries and the environmental protection agency, and disclosures made by companies. The contract documents themselves should be published in line with the principles of open data.
4. Support use of contracts. The disclosure of contracts and licenses should not represent the end point of a country’s efforts. For stakeholders to receive the benefits of contract disclosure, government should support initiatives to encourage the use of contracts. This might involve producing technological and information tools such as plain-language explanations of the contracts. It could also include training and outreach, participation in public forums to discuss contract terms, and trainings to build the ability of “info-mediaries”—local government officials, journalists, civil society groups and other stakeholders—to better understand the nuances of contracts and their impacts on extractive industry governance. 

Rob Pitman is a governance officer at the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI). 

Image “Oil tankers off Takoradi” by Flickr user Ben Sutherland, used under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.


Related content