AfDB Reiterates Commitment to Help Improve Extractive Industries Governance

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Tunis, 18 February 2009 – The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has reiterated its commitment to help improve extractive industries governance in the institution’s African member countries in support of their efforts to manage public resources efficiently for development.

In a speech at the 4th EITI  (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) Global Conference in Doha, Qatar,  the AfDB Vice President for Sector Operations, Zeinab El-Bakri, said such commitment was in line with the Bank’s Governance Strategic Directions and Action Plan, which seeks to strengthen transparency and accountability in the management of public resources at the country, sector, and regional levels.

“The Bank holds the view that transparency and accountability in the extractive sector should be integrated into the overall public financial management reform dialogue in member countries, to increase its efficiency,” she said.

In addition, the Bank has endorsed the concept for the establishment of the African Legal Support Facility to assist African countries address issues relating to their debt sustainability by combating the litigious conduct of vulture funds that purchase distressed debt at huge discounts, refuse to participate in voluntary restructurings and sue to recover the debt’s full value.

The Bank Group’s support for EITI also seeks to remove the imbalances in negotiating power by training African countries’ negotiators and enabling them to negotiate complex commercial and extractive industries contracts in equitable ways, to make the process of mineral extraction beneficial to both investors and resource endowed nations.

Mrs. El-Bakri also cited support provided by the Bank at various levels in addition to promoting advocacy, outreach, and training activities, while mainstreaming EITI principles in its own natural resource and extractive industries operations, through the development of a natural resource policy and operational guidance for the Bank’s engagement in natural resource governance.

On Mainstreaming EITI in the Bank, the Governance, Economic and Financial Management Department Director, Gabriel Negatu, used graphic indicators to emphasize the need to strengthen governance which, he said, “remains a key challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa”.  

The Bank is addressing this by working at three levels – country, sector and regional – to strengthen accountability and transparency in the management of public resources.

The Bank also provides support through policy-based lending programs (budget support), institutional support projects, economic and sector work, regional training initiatives as well as technical assistance in the form of equipment, staffing, and   institutional strengthening.

Mr. Negatu also cited recent Bank initiatives in Extractive Industries Governance (EI) Mainstreaming EITI in implementing countries, the demand side and how the Bank mainstreams EITI in its operations, among others.

For his part, the Acting Legal Counsel, Gadio Kalidou made a presentation on the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF), established in April 2008, to provide the institution’s member countries with technical, legal assistance in the negotiation of extractive industries related concessions and other forms of complex commercial transactions.

Mr. Gadio said the ALSF treaty, which entered into force on 15 December 2008, had been signed by 29 countries.

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