"At long last we see some solid blueprints being laid out. This puts us at square one. Now we must push for all of these exciting initiatives to be put to work for African people."
A commitment to extractives transparency
The challenge, however, remains huge. The latest CIVICUS survey reveals that many newly-resource rich African countries remain rooted near the bottom of global governance rankings.
One study of the global extractive industry[source] found that for each extra US dollar in oil exports, an additional 11 to 26 cents leaves the country in illicit capital flight. Globally, extractive industries are currently estimated to be worth around $3.5 trillion a year.
Oxfam believes the G8 made a good start earlier this year by committing to raise global standards for extractives transparency and by endorsing mandatory payment disclosure requirements and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. The EU Transparency and Accounting Directives and US Dodd-Frank Act require oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments to host governments down to the project level; Oxfam welcomes the UK government's commitment to implement the EU directives in 2014. Canada's commitment to implement mandatory payment disclosure within the next two years is also good news, and should match the standards set in the EU and US.
Self-interested policies to the detriment of African people
The Director of the African Studies Center at Oxford University, Dr Nic Cheeseman, will say that "The importance of natural resources to the African continent is growing by the year. Following recent finds of oil and gas across East and West Africa, an issue that was previously only relevant to a small number of countries is now at the top of the political agenda for many more."
"We are no longer just talking about the classic "resource economies" - DRC, Nigeria and South Africa. In the future, the debate about the impact of oil and the resource curse will focus on Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania," Dr Cheeseman said.
"How well African countries manage their natural resources over the next decade is the single most important factor that will determine whether or not the continent manages to sustain its fragile economic recovery.
"We must redouble our efforts to understand how African countries can best manage their extractive industries. But these efforts should not just focus on what African governments can do. Multinational companies and international governments have often pursued self-interested policies to the detriment of African people," he said.
"Ensuring that the proceeds from oil and gas work for the people of Africa requires a new approach both inside and outside of Africa".
From transparency to accountability
Mark Goldring, Oxfam Chief Executive who will close the event, said: "We now need the US and EU to quickly implement their own extractive industries transparency laws, and for Canada to get its law in place. Mining giants Australia and South Africa have an important opportunity to lead G20 nations by example on this issue too.
"But transparency is only effective when twinned with accountability. Companies and governments equally need to be held to account for managing Africa's mineral riches for the benefit of African people. Foreign companies can't be expected to fix weak governance - but they can exploit it, and many continue to do exactly that," Goldring said. Add Comments>>