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Three Key Tasks for Guinea as Stakeholders Seek to Improve Mining Governance

Today in Conakry, NRGI president and CEO Daniel Kaufmann delivered introductory remarks alongside senior Guinean government and civil society actors at the Responsible Mineral Development Initiative. Below is a synopsis.

It is important to recognize Guinea’s governance achievements over the past eight years ago or so—the country is on an overall positive trajectory.

But citizens have not yet fully benefited from the country’s natural resources. This is largely due to poor governance performance in the past, as well as some lingering challenges.

To put this in perspective: we provide measures for governance indicators for more than 200 countries. Almost a decade ago, Guinea ranked in the bottom five in the world on political stability and absence of violence. Now, Guinea is ahead of 50 countries in this respect. Also almost a decade ago, Guinea ranked in the bottom 15 countries in control corruption. Now, Guinea is ahead of over 30 countries. Guinea has seen similar improvements in civil liberties and freedom of the press.

But there is a lot of room and opportunity to continue improvements in the coming years. Guinea is not rated highly nowadays, in terms of governance indicators, by any means.

It’s important to note that Guinea is not the only country affected by the so-called “resource curse.” Mining governance can be done well, as the examples of Chile, Australia and other countries show.

In the mining sector, expectations are high: the government has promised transparent management of resources and better policies, which is key for investors and managing expectations by citizens – but there are serious implementation challenges, which NRGI codifies in the Resource Governance Index we produce.

Based on NRGI international experience, I would like to point out three tasks ahead that we could keep in mind over the next couple of days.

  • The implementation of the mining law. We have commended and still congratulate Guinea for the far-sighted mining code adopted in its final form in 2013. From international experience, we know that implementing all the provisions of a new mining code is very challenging. And even for those provisions that have been issued, such as the mining taxes, it requires consistent enforcement to have positive impact.
  • Adopting meaningful transparency. The extractives transparency movement has grown and found many champions across the world, in Europe, Mexico, Colombia, Tunisia, South Africa and the Philippines. These emerging best practices are not about simply publishing contracts or statistics. They’re about publishing information in a meaningful way, taking into account the different information needs of citizens, journalists and investors. They are about making data usable.
  • Embracing collective action and a key multi-stakeholder initiative in the sector. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is full of possibilities. I sit on the international board of the EITI. There are over 50 member countries, and each one has a chapter, including EITI-Guinea. Each country also has a multi-stakeholder group, which are three stakeholders working together. EITI standards are not an imposition from outside—they are shaped and perfected by each active member country that goes beyond minimum requirements. But some countries are more active than others. Guinea could be more proactive and take further EITI leadership, adapting it to its own realities, and own leadership, and address the need to strengthen its EITI secretariat and multi-stakeholder group. Rather than being EITI-passive, Guinea could use the framework provided by EITI to move proactively forward, with the government, industry and civil society working together.

Daniel Kaufmann is the president and CEO of the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI).