Tanzania: A bid for transparency in murky extractive industries

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When it comes to extractive industries, Tanzania is one of Africa’s richest countries. From minerals to marine resources, Tanzania has it all. It is the World’s only source of Tanzanite, a blue gem said to be 1000 times rarer than diamond. It is home to the highest mountain on the continent and Lake Tanganyika, the World’s deepest lake.

How to manage the extractive industries is an insurmountable task that has seen many countries plunge into endless civil wars. At the center of this strife is a matter of much deliberation but one word can describe the complex mechanisms that are required to efficiently manage the extractive industries, transparency.

Transparency in this case is a very touchy subject after all, who wants to let the world know the details of the 100 years renewable contract that they have signed with a multi-national corporation?

However, that is exactly what transparency demands, stifle your greed and make public the details of all contracts in the extractive industries down to the very last cent. How much is the contract worth, how will the payments be made, to what accounts, what is been mined and what are the other minerals also available in the waste dust…the list goes on and on.

You see, a company may get a license to explore for gold but in the process they discover that they can even make more money selling rock aggregates that arise as a bi-product of the excavation processes.

Without transparency, without a contract that is open for scrutiny, then fees and fines are underestimated, taxes are evaded and all in all the country is robbed in broad day light. That is what transparency is all about and that is why it is a very touchy subject.

Transparency is the solution to ending Africa’s cycle of poverty. Should the mining contracts and all contracts in the extractive industries are transparent then countries stand to gain a piece of the pie that is enriching everyone else across the World.

 

Publish What You Pay

All want transparency in the extractive industries but few are aware of the ‘Publish What You Pay’ (PWYP) initiative.

Publish What You Pay is a global campaign designed to promote transparency and good governance in the extractive industries. The campaign focuses on Tanzania’s main extractive industries, minerals, oil and gas, and to a lesser extent on fisheries and forestry resources.

The campaign is targeted to help voice the complains that arise in various countries over the question of transparency in the production, distribution and consumption of natural resources.

Well, Tanzania is already very vocal over transparency issues in the extractive industry hence the establishment of the Tanzania Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (TEITI). As such As the PWYP in Tanzania falls under or works with the TEITI.

A major issue of concern in Tanzania’s extractive industries is the mining sector where sector pundits are up in arms demanding the policy to complement greater public interest. For one thing, there are concerns over how the mining policy was rushed through parliament.

Advocates feel passing the law as an emergency bill that forced expedition of the process and denied in depth deliberation by the lawmakers undermined transparency of the sector. Should the law have been reviewed in depth, then various aspects of transparency, local content and community CRS issues would have been addressed.

However, transparency advocates are less than pleased with the mining despite its various reforms, then there is the Energy law of 1992 that was revised 2003 which also is questioned as too how much room it leaves for inclusion.

Similarly there is the Petroleum Act of 1980 that was revised in 2008 but also is questioned as not inclusive and lacks transparency. These are key development sectors of the nation, they are the hinges of the economy habouring the capacity to lift the general public from poverty to better household incomes.

Better management of the extractive industries also means increased government revenue which gives it power to implement national development projects like infrastructure development. With internal revenue sources from the extractive industry, then the government does not have to rely on international donors to implement much needed development projects.

So transparency in the extractive industries is a matter of national wellbeing, take for instance the question of water supply. Any one of these industries or a combination of some, has the ability to generate internal revenue to suffice water development projects that would end the plight of Tanzanians.

Same applies to transportation infrastructure, for businesses to grow, transportation sector must be strong and this can be funded internally from revenue generated by the extractive industries. This is the path to poverty eradication in any country, internal funding to finance development projects.

Now Tanzania is extraordinarily endowed with a long list of natural resources from the mineral sector to the energy esector, from the fisheries to the forestry sectors the country has the capacity to develop through internal funding generated from its extractive industries.

 

Giza Mdoe is an experienced journalist with 10 plus years. He's been a Creative Director on various brand awareness campaigns and a former Copy Editor for some of Tanzania's leading newspapers. He's a graduate with a BA in Journalism from the University of San Jose.

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