Abuja, October 25, 2018. The global search for real owners of oil, gas and mining companies moves to Dakar, as a major conference on beneficial ownership disclosure in Africa begins on 31 October 2018 in the Senegalese capital.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is organizing the conference with participants drawn from governments, extractive companies, civil society and non - governmental organizations. The over 200 participants are expected to dialogue, debate and evolve strategies to tackle the challenges posed by hidden ownership syndrome in the extractive industries.
The global EITI is convinced that knowing the real owners of companies that operate in the sector in resource-rich countries especially in Africa is fundamental to the strengthening of natural resource governance.
A statement on the conference by the EITI international secretariat shared with the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), identified illicit activities such as corruption, money laundering, tax evasion, terrorism financing, e.t.c., as part of the dangers of hidden beneficial owners of companies.
The EITI statement further explained that public disclosure of real owners of these companies would improve investment climate, reduce reputational and financial risks, and prevent illicit financial flows. Other gains include improvement in rule of law, promotion of citizens’ engagement, trust and accountability, increased revenue collection as well as creation of level-playing grounds for foreign investments to thrive.
The EITI statement further noted that in resource-rich countries like Nigeria, public disclosure of real owners of companies in the oil, gas and mining sectors could translate to billions of dollars in extractive revenue payments to governments; which could be channeled into providing programmes for poverty reduction and improved standard of living for citizens.
The conference will have in attendance experts in the extractive industries value chain to discuss emerging best practices in beneficial ownership disclosures in EITI member countries, including Nigeria. Participants will equally examine how to mobilize domestic resources in oil, gas and mining sectors. Other issues for discussion are risks management in licensing, issues of politically exposed persons and conflict of interests.
NEITI has since published a roadmap on beneficial ownership disclosures as part of Nigeria’s commitment to EITI implementation and Open Government Partnership (OGP). The roadmap is in fulfillment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration at the London Anti-corruption summit in 2016 that Nigeria would undertake the development of a public register of beneficial owners of companies in the oil, gas and mining sectors.
The scope of NEITI independent audit reports has equally expanded to cover voluntary beneficial ownership disclosures. This is in addition to series of multi-stakeholders’ engagements to drive home the message that beneficial ownership disclosures is an idea whose time has come in Nigeria’s extractive sector.
The President of Senegal, Macky Sall is among Africa leaders expected to address the conference.
It would be recalled that Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo led Nigeria’s delegation to a similar conference held in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2017 where he re-affirmed Nigeria’s commitment to beneficial ownership disclosures.
The outcome of the conference is expected to set the stage for EITI implementing countries to take steps to domesticate this important initiative through legal and institutional frameworks in their respective jurisdictions.
Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji.
Director, Communications and Advocacy.