|The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) remains crucial in ensuring transparency and good use of oil revenue for oil producing countries in Africa, Mr N’Dri Koffi, President, EITI, Cote d’Ivoire has reiterated.
“If the EITI is not in place there would be diversion of oil revenues. So it is mainly there to check the proper use of revenues accruing from oil and gas industry,” Mr Koffi was talking to visiting Ghanaian journalists who are in Abidjan to get first-hand information on the industry.
The International Institute for ICT Journalism (Penplusbytes) in collaboration with the Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) organised the trip for seven Ghanaian journalists from both state-owned and private media houses. Mrs Lydia Asamoah, a Chief Reporter with the Ghana News Agency is part of the team.
The trip also formed part of the “Strengthening Media Oversight of Extractive Industry Project,” that aims to expose journalists to issues in the oil, gas and mining industry.
Cote d’Ivoire, which started oil production around 1993, became an EITI candidate in May, 2008. The country compiles its reports on the industry on quarterly basis, which are later submitted to EITI Secretariat that intend verify and audit the report for dissemination to the general public and other international bodies like the IMF.
Mr Koffi said it was mandatory for all the petroleum companies operating in the Cote d’Ivoire to go through the EITI, adding since the initiative was introduced, there had been much transparency in the oil sector.
Thirty-six countries world-wide have so far applied to the EITI and had become either candidates or complaint countries. Ghana became complaint a year ago while Cote d’Ivoire is a candidate.
On the challenges being faced by the EITI Secretariat, Mr Koffi mentioned lack of funds to enable the Secretariat to interpret the report in the various local languages to well inform people at the local or grassroots. Again, he said, most of government reports presented to the EITI are not audited.
Côte d’Ivoire’s oil resources were discovered in the 1970s, and US-based International Oil Companies (IOCs) such as Exxon and Phillips secured licenses to develop several Ivorian fields, which brought production up to levels that enabled the country to almost fully supply domestic oil demand.
However, by 1989 these companies had terminated their Ivorian operations due to rising production costs and unprofitable profit-sharing agreements.
Production peaked in 2006 and the higher level has been maintained.
The “Strengthening Media Oversight of the Extractive Sectors Pilot Programme” which started in 2011 aims at promoting good governance and an effective oversight of the oil, gas and mining (extractive) resources and revenues.
Nanan Pierre Kouame-Akpegni, Coordinator in charge of the training centre, Cote d’Ivoire Workers Union, said information sharing on the oil industry had become more rampant while there had also been citizens mobilisation in championing the issues affecting the people.
Nana Kouame-Akpegni, who retired as a Geologist from Petroci, the National Oil Company of Cote d’Ivoire, said in 1972, most of the nationals were sponsored by the government to study various courses in oil and gas in countries like Canada, Romania and the USA so they could work in the industry.
He said currently, all the other sectors of the Ivorian economy like production of cocoa and coffee were still vibrant and “cocoa production remained number one industry in the country”.