The government of Guinea’s online publication of its contracts with mining companies brings significant transparency to the most important part of the country’s economy and advances the government’s review of all existing contracts, Revenue Watch has said.
Daniel Kaufmann, president of Revenue Watch, says the government should be congratulated for joining the growing number of countries that make contracts public. He adds that publishing contracts allows citizens to evaluate the decisions their government makes about how publicly owned natural resources are used, and can make government more accountable for the deals it signs.
Guinea’s Technical Contract Review Committee published on its website more than 60 contract documents covering 18 mining projects. The government thus fulfilled a commitment of the mining code adopted in 2011. The online materials include a searchable summary of contract terms, allowing non-expert readers to find key sections and understand the obligations for companies and the government.
The government has said it will add online any amended contracts and all future contracts. This has strong potential benefits for improving governance of the sector. Revenue Watch, in conjunction with the World Bank Institute and Columbia University, contributed to development of the online material, in response to a government request.
Patrick Heller, senior legal advisor at Revenue Watch said Guinea’s action is a model for other countries and demonstrates that making contracts public is possible even in challenging environments. He adds that contract transparency is one of the ingredients of effective government management of natural resources and of effective citizen oversight.
Heller said Guinea’s step forward is particularly relevant to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which is debating whether to require contract disclosure by implementing countries.
Guinea is rich in bauxite, iron ore and other minerals, and better regulation and governance of the mining sector are keys to accelerating economic development. According to the government, the contract review is examining all existing agreements, many of which were signed under non-transparent conditions and do not provide the country with economic benefits commensurate to the value of the resources.