Blog by John Gaventa at IDS: “Over the last two decades great strides have been made in terms of holding extractive industries accountable. As demonstrated at the Global Assembly of Publish What You Pay (PWYP), which I attended recently in Dakar, Senegal, more information than ever about revenue flows to governments from the oil gas and mining industries is now publicly available. But new research suggests that such information disclosure, while important, is by itself not enough to hold companies to account, and address corruption.
… a recent study in Mozambique by researchers Nicholas Aworti and Adriano Adriano Nuvunga questions this assumption. Supported by the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) Research Programme, the research explored why greater transparency of information has not necessarily led to greater social and political action for accountability.
Like many countries in Africa, Mozambique is experiencing massive outside investments in recently discovered natural resources, including rich deposits of natural gas and oil, as well as coal and other minerals. Over the last decade, NGOs like the Centre for Public Integrity, who helped facilitate the study, have done brave and often pioneering work to elicit information on the extractive industry, and to publish it in hard-hitting reports, widely reported in the press, and discussed at high-level stakeholder meetings.
Yet, as Aworti and Nuvunga summarise in a policy brief based on their research, ‘neither these numerous investigative reports nor the EITI validation reports have inspired social and political action such as public protest or state prosecution.’ Corruption continues, and despite the newfound mineral wealth, the country remains one of the poorest in Africa.
The authors ask, ‘If information disclosure has not been enough to
The research and the challenges highlighted by the Mozambique case point to the need for new approaches. At the Global Assembly in Dakar several hundred of PYWP’s more than 700 members from 45 countries gathered to discuss and to approve the organisation’s next strategic plan. Among other points, the plan calls for going beyond transparency – to more intentionally use information to foster and promote citizen action, strengthen grassroots participation and voice on mining issues, and improve links with other related civil society movements working on gender, climate and tax justice in the extractives field.
Coming at a time where increasing push back and repression threaten the space for citizens to speak truth to power, this is a bold call. I chaired two sessions with PWYP activists who had been beaten, jailed, threatened or exiled for challenging mining companies, and 70