The chair of the Africa Progress Panel, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, has pushed back on an oil industry attack against the landmark US Dodd-Frank Act oil and mining payment disclosure provision. In an op-ed in today’s New York Times, Annan said the lawsuit launched by the American Petroleum Institute against the US Securities and Exchange Commission was a “strategic folly” and those companies supporting the suit, such as Chevron, Exxon, BP and Shell were “swimming against the tide of reform”.
The Africa Progress Panel’s 2013 report “Equity in Extractives” was released today in Cape Town and focuses on steps to take to ensure that Africa’s oil, gas and mining boom actually benefits the majority of African’s rather than a select few. The panel includes the former head of the IMF, Michel Camdessus; former US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin; former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo; former first lady of Mozambique Graca Machel; and Peter Eigen, founder of Transparency International and former chair of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, among others.
These heavy hitters stand behind a report that says there “is no credible evidence to indicate that the Dodd-Frank requirements will impose significant additional costs, let alone threaten the competitive position of some of the world’s largest companies.” The report says that the “Cardin-Lugar” or Section 1504 provision of Dodd-Frank and forthcoming European Union disclosure requirements provisions represents an important opportunity for African civil society groups to work with multinational companies to “achieve higher standards of disclosure” but notes that some companies appear “to be squandering that opportunity” with the US lawsuit.
In advance of June’s G8 summit, the report says “all countries must adopt and enforce” project-by-project disclosure standards such as in the US and EU—“as major players in Africa’s extractives sector, Australia, Canada and China should be the next countries to actively support this emerging global consensus.”
Oxfam’s new Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, is from Uganda, a country undergoing its own oil boom, and is in Cape Town for the World Economic Forum Africa. She said “African governments must use oil, gas and mining to raise revenue, but this boom must not steamroll the rights of communities living on top of Africa’s mineral wealth. It is important that local communities are informed and consulted about extractive industry projects that affect them.”
With the political boost from today’s African Progress Report we are one step closing to realizing the so far unrealized potential of Africa’s resource endowment.