Ethiopia going all out to establish transparency, accountability in mining

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The government of Ethiopia announced that it is making remarkable progress in its efforts to become a full member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
EITI is a coalition of governments, mining companies and civil society organizations (CSOs) established to promote transparency and accountability in the management of natural resources. The main objective of the initiative is to regularly disclose payments made by mining companies to the government from the extraction of natural gas, oil and minerals in cash or in kind.  
At the Natural Resource Transparency Forum held on Thursday at the Desalegn Hotel, Sinkinesh Ejigu, Minister of Mines, said that the country has gone above and beyond the requirements needed to become a member of EITI. “As part of the government’s ongoing commitment to establish transparent and accountable management of the mining sector, the National Steering Committee (NSC) [consisting of 15 members from companies, CSOs and the government] along with the Ministry, has tried to implement the other phase of the EITI rule,” said Sinkinesh.
According to the Minister, key stakeholders were briefed to create awareness and join the initiative, which resulted in 32 mining companies joining the initiative.  “An extensive attempt has also been made on different occasions to build the capacity of government institutions, mining companies and CSOs,” she said.  “These capacity-building programs have helped us a lot in creating a common understanding among stakeholders,” continued Sinkinesh.
Furthermore, the NSC, with financial support from the World Bank, acquired the services of the Hart Group, a UK-based independent audit firm, –which reconciled the payments made by mining companies and revenues received by the government for the year 2009/10. “Therefore, we gained considerable experience that prepared us for the next reconciliation,” she said.
Jonas Moberg, Head of the EITI International Secretariat, confirmed that the reform the country is undertaking is a good sign. However, “There are some people from the international board of EITI, who have been in touch with the civil society here, that have issues and concerns about the so-called NGO proclamation,” he told the forum. “I hope it can be addressed soon and that the Ethiopian process can become a formal part of EITI,” he stated.
The government had announced its commitment to join and implement the principles of EITI in 2009. There are 40 countries that implement the EITI worldwide, out of which half are from Africa, according to Moberg.
After the forum and some other meetings with the Minister and another envoy from the government, the representatives of EITI will brief the international board about the existing situation and progress being made in the country.