Resource-rich African nations suffer governance gaps

Many African nations have laws designed to promote accountability in the oil and mining sector, nevertheless they suffer from troubling gaps in natural resource governance, according to a new index released on Wednesday.

Revenue Watch’s Resource Governance Index measures the quality of governance in the oil, gas and mining sector of 58 countries worldwide.

The index was launched symbolically in Accra, Washington and London.

A statement issued in Accra and copied to Ghana News Agency said researchers surveyed 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, many of which are highly dependent on natural resources.

It said oil, gas and minerals made up more than 80 per cent of exports in Gabon, Nigeria, and Zambia in 2010.

It indicated Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and South Sudan rely on oil revenues for more than two-thirds of their budgets, yet no country in the region earned a satisfactory score for resource governance.

Dr Daniel Kaufmann, President of Revenue Watch said: “The Index research reveals a governance deficit in how transparent and accountable countries are with their natural resources.”

The index said Ghana, Liberia, Zambia and South Africa earned the region’s highest scores. Strong oil and mining laws help guarantee a competitive licensing process. Along with Tanzania, they have anti-corruption policies and emerging audit systems.

In 11 of the 17 African countries, good governance policies exist but are not practiced. For example, Guinea and Angola received low overall rankings despite detailed oil laws.

Fewer African governments provide the detailed data citizens need to track their country’s earnings.

Countries such as Botswana, Gabon, Sierra Leone and Nigeria do not publish contract terms or full data on production and revenues.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Cameroon, South Sudan, Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea do not have effective monitoring, and lawmakers rarely review resource revenues.

In Botswana, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea, individual government officials have considerable authority over licensing decisions, undermining competition and creating opportunities for corruption.

The index offers recommendations for both highly ranked countries like Brazil and for low-ranking countries like Afghanistan.

In sub-Saharan Africa, researchers stressed the need to pass and enforce freedom of information laws and require companies and government agencies to disclose detailed information on the oil and mining industries, an essential first step toward public accountability. GNA

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