Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 November 2018:
Speaking at the African Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative Conference in Dakar, Senegal, which ended yesterday, president Julius Maada Bio called for transparency and accountability in the extractives sector, especially mining and oil exploration.
The president of Sierra Leone was addressing an audience including, president Macky Sall of Senegal, ministers from across Africa, senior government officials, officials of the World Bank, the Africa Development Bank and the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).
President Bio said that the history of governance and management of the extractive industries in Africa has produced mixed results.
“In one way, revenues from the extractive industries have financed transformational development projects and infrastructure to provide social services for our citizens. In a more gruesome and tragic way, the exploitation of extractive resources has regrettably financed some of Africa’s most brutal armed conflicts.
“More worryingly, rogue actors and rogue beneficiaries have squandered wealth from extractives through opaque ownership arrangements and illicit international financial flows,” he said.
As an anti-corruption champion in Africa, President Bio spoke about his commitment to promoting transparency and accountability. “For my government in Sierra Leone, promoting transparency and accountability in the extractive industries is not only about promoting good governance. It is about doing good business.
“It attracts credible and identifiable investors into the sector and it enhances transparency and accountability for the proceeds from the extractives sector. My country will therefore continue to consistently use EITI tools to continually improve management of the overall extractive sector for the benefit of citizens of Sierra Leone,” president Bio told the conference.
He welcomed the EITI’s requirement that information on beneficial ownership be made public by 2020; and stated that Sierra Leone is fully engaged in working assiduously to meet that deadline.
Highlighting the concrete steps being taken by his new administration, President Bio said that: “The Sierra Leone Minerals Policy that is now in the final stages of review, includes provisions to ensure that companies bid for licence; licenced operators in the extractive industries declare their beneficial owners and interests.
“We are also reviewing the Corporate Affairs Governance Code and developing a more detailed activity and monitoring plan. Additionally, we plan extensive public information and civic engagement on the core points of reform, while building our capacity to manage the extractives sector.”
President Bio said that his call for transparency and accountability in the extractive sector is part of his fight against corruption. “We have been using various tools and different approaches to fight corruption. But we believe corruption fights back. Beneficial ownership is a useful and welcome addition to our toolbox to fight corruption in the management of extractives especially as it helps us address corruption by politically exposed persons who have been, for far too long, deeply affiliated with or served as undeclared proxy owners of various businesses in the extractive sector.
“It also helps us fight against illicit international money laundering and other illicit financial flows that are facilitated through complicity with government and other officials.”
Earlier before the start of the conference, president Bio held bilateral meeting with the Chair of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative – Fredrik Reinfeldt, who is the former Swedish Prime Minister, after receiving a warm welcome from president Macky Sall of Senegal (Photo above).
Fredrik Reinfeldt commended President Bio for his transparent leadership, his fight against corruption and commitment to reform the extractive sector in Sierra Leone.
Reinfeldt also assured President Bio that the EITI will support his new government’s reforms in the extractive sector, including the review of the Mines and Minerals Act.