Namibia considers joining oil deal transparency project

The government is yet to decide whether it would join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (Eiti).

This is amid calls from civil society, saying Eiti membership is crucial to protect the country’s newfound oil and gas reserves against corruption.

An estimated 11 billion barrels in oil reserves have been found off Namibia’s coast, with the first production planned within four years.

Mining commissioner Isabella Chirchir says stakeholders in the extractive industry have made recommendations to minister of mines and energy Tom Alweendo, who is expected to soon present his decision to the parliament.

Isabella Chirchir

“The assessment was completed and a report was submitted. At the moment no decision on the position has been taken. The ministry is still reviewing the report and will forward its recommendations on the best option for Namibia for Cabinet approval once finalised,” she says.

Veston Malango, the chief executive of the Chamber of Mines of Namibia, says the chamber has been consulted and would support any decision taken by the government.

The Eiti seeks to establish a global standard for the good governance of oil, gas and mineral resources.

Since Namibia’s oil discoveries in 2022, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has spearheaded efforts for the country to join the Eiti.

This push aims to prevent a repeat of scandals like the Fishrot corruption case.

“In view of Namibia’s 2022 oil and gas discoveries, expanding mining activities and green transition projects getting underway, such as green hydrogen, there has never been a greater need for transparency in the extractives sector,” IPPR director Graham Hopwood says.

He says the second Harambee Prosperity Plan, under the pillar of effective governance, commits the government to either joining the Eiti and/or introducing its own reforms that meet the Eiti standard by March next year.

“Despite this, not many people in Namibia are aware of the key extractive industry transparency issues or the Eiti,” Hopwood says.

During a recent webinar organised by the IPPR, Tamika Halwindi from Transparency International Zambia said the country’s membership to the Eiti is bringing positive changes to its mining sector.

Graham Hopwood

He said mining companies in Zambia are embracing revenue sharing with communities, beneficial ownership reforms are underway and contracts like royalty agreements are being disclosed.

Halwindi said the Eiti is also shedding light on state participation and the tax contributions of mining companies.

“We are launching a mainstreaming portal in April 2023, which will also host most of the data and information required for a transparent extractive industry,” he said.

Also speaking at the webinar was Gilbert Makore, representing the Eiti secretariat, who outlined the expectations for companies participating in the initiative.

He said these include public declarations of support for the Eiti and transparency, data disclosure according to the Eiti standard in all relevant countries and detailed reporting of taxes, payments to governments, volumes received and purchase costs of oil, gas and minerals.

Additionally, companies are required to disclose their audited financial statements.

Currently, the Eiti comprises 57 implementing countries and 65 supporting companies.

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