An annual NRGI-led extractives governance course in Cameroon welcomed participants from the private sector for the first time this summer.
With the Democratic Republic of Congo’s dependence on mining negatively affecting its economy, interest in Senegal’s gas deposits sharpening and recent community uprisings in mining areas in Guinea, the Francophone Africa Extractive Industries Knowledge Hub could not have been more timely.
This year’s hub saw one of its 2011 alums return to teach a course on the role of media in covering oil, gas and mining. Since his training, Akoumba Diallo, a Guinean journalist, has lectured on extractives governance at Conakry universities. He currently helms a weekly radio show on mining sector investigations.
Corporate actors joined with more than 30 civil society representatives at the hub, an intensive training over July and August in Yaoundé co-founded by the Catholic University of Central Africa. (The hub was also supported by Misereor.) Thirty-five representatives from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Senegal took part.
The private sector presence was an opportunity for participants from very different stakeholder groups to meet and understand the perspectives of one another, according to Côte d’Ivoire Chamber of Mines Executive Director and Women in Mining Côte d’Ivoire President Christine Logbo-Kossi.
Through facilitating fruitful exchanges and technically empowering different actors in hubs, NRGI and partners aim to facilitate coalitions capable of concrete change.
Common understanding helps to take the heat out of the debate, Logbo-Kossi emphasized. She said she intends to encourage Ivorian companies to go beyond a simply economic approach.
As always, courses at the hub were structured around the “extractives decision chain” reflected in the Natural Resource Charter. Interactive and exercise-driven engagement covered the decision to extract, contracts, taxation, disclosure of payments, local content, revenue management and monitoring of environmental and social obligations.
Taxation and budgeting courses were especially useful, said Ben-Bellah Mpiana Donat, executive director of the nongovernmental organization Action Against Impunity and for Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Though civil society vocalized its concerns over tax provisions during the country’s mining code revision, he said these groups need more information on the topic.
Mamoudou Condé, president of Guinea’s Student Committee for Transparency in the Extractive Industries, found the interchange of ideas particularly valuable. Along with a developing a close understanding of the extractive sector decision chain, Condé wanted to be able to share his knowledge with youth organizations and other civil society actors back in Guinea. Hub participants plan to remain in touch and share ideas beyond the summer school, Condé said.
Sun-Min Kim is the Guinea/Africa program officer with the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI).