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Peter Eigen is founder and chair of the Advisory Council, Transparency International, founding chairman of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and a member of the Africa Progress Panel.
Across Africa, an extraordinary natural resources boom is underway. Energy and mineral extraction is driving economic growth on the continent. New exploration, new discoveries and no let-up in global demand mean Africa has a unique opportunity to deliver prosperity and opportunity for its citizens.
As you would expect from a country at the centre of the world’s mining industry, Canada is playing a major role. Eight of the countries where Canadian mining assets exceed $1-billion are in Africa. But this also places a special responsibility on Canada to ensure Africa benefits as well.
For while Africa’s economic growth at an average 5% per year for the past decade has been impressive, this success has not been translated into improvements in the lives of its citizens. African countries are not getting a fair share of the revenues from the mining activities within their borders. Weak African governance can mean the money which is paid is not used effectively to improve public services or create employment.
The result is that poverty is still widespread. Youth unemployment is rising steadily. With Africa’s population set to increase three-fold between 2000 and 2050, this is deeply worrying.
In a report released last week, the Africa Progress Panel sets out a comprehensive package of reforms for African governments, the international community and global businesses to put this right. At their heart is the urgent need to improve transparency to prevent corruption, discourage unfair behaviour and increase accountability.
Across the African continent, momentum is already building for greater transparency. More African governments are making contracts on oil and minerals publicly available. Many major mining companies have strengthened their transparency and accountability standards. Civil society is successfully pushing for greater clarity.
Many of these initiatives have been voluntary. But new legislation in the European Union and the United States makes an enormous step forward by requiring listed extractive companies to report significant payments to governments.
For the rest of this column, click here: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/05/13/africa-for-monday/Here are 10 things the premier has to act on if he, or she, wants credibility on the green file.