The governing board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) board met in Oslo on March 19, 2014 and approved the Government of Ethiopia (GOE) application for EITI candidature to its global standard on transparent management of oil, gas and mineral resources.
While announcing the approval, EITI Chair, Clare Short said that she was pleased with the Board decision to accept the GOE as an EITI Candidate country. She noted that in the case of Ethiopia, the decision shows that the Board was convinced by GOE’s commitment to the EITI’s principles and added that membership of the EITI will mean that all stakeholders, including civil society (CSOs), will have a better platform to hold GOE and relevant companies to account and ensure the better management of the burgeoning sector. In a rejoinder, Ethiopian Minister of Mines, Tolesa Shagi, wrote to the Board stating, “The Ethiopian Government is highly committed to work with CSOs to ensure their engagement in the Ethiopian EITI.” By the same token, Manager of the Gas, Oil, Mining Unit of the Sustainable Energy Department of the World Bank, Paulo de Sa stated that the World Bank applauds the step GOE has taken to engage on transparency issues.
When EITI overruled Ethiopia’s first application in 2010 it stated that the country’s Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSP) would prevent groups from being sufficiently independent and meaningfully participate in the EITI. The decision to accept Ethiopia as an EITI Candidate country when the Proclamation is still very much in place (and its devastating impact is being painfully felt), questions the commitment of EITI for independent and free CSO participation. This also sends the message that EITI’s standards can, not only be set aside for political expediency, but also will accord a measure of legitimacy to the draconian legal and administrative regime that GOE put in place to severely limit the impact of CSOs in the country.
- The GOE should adhere to the suggestion that the Multi Stakeholder Group (MSG) updates assessment and actions to address potential capacity constraints, as well as plans for addressing any legal, regulatory or administrative barriers to the implementation identified in the ongoing legal review commissioned by the MSG.
- EITI to begin enforcing its own standards that require candidate countries to ensure that CSOs fully, independently and freely participated in the EITI process.
- GOE should start by ensuring free participation of independent CSOs on MSG by making CSOs directives more favorable and practical.