The Learning Tour, made by six delegates from the Sierra Leone Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (SLEITI) to Monrovia from May 26-30, 2014, was designed to promote experience and knowledge sharing on EITI implementation between Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Speaking on Friday at the Len Millar High School in Monrovia during a special youth engagement meeting that climaxed the visit, the Acting Coordinator of SLEITI, Madam Mina Horace said, the tour has enabled Sierra Leone to learn a lot from Liberia’s achievements in the EITI implementation.
Key amongst the experiences learned from Liberia, which she said would be crucial to moving forward the EITI program in Sierra Leone, include the autonomy of the Secretariat and the many effective approaches LEITI uses to communicate the EITI. Madam Horace also observed, following a visit to the Sime Darby’s Plantation in western Liberia, that concessionaires in Liberia seem to be more responsive to fulfilling their corporate social responsibilities, noting, her delegation will convey the message to the Government of Sierra Leone to ensure that the people in her homeland benefit from the extraction of their resources.
Another member of the SLEITI Delegation, Mr. Mohammed Saluisi, who represents the SLEITI Multi-stakeholders Steering Group (MSG) said, the visit was very rewarding, and that no other venue would have been better than Liberia given the country’s impressive track records in EITI implementation. Mr. Saluisi then called for a full exchange program, hoping that the Liberian EITI will visit Sierra Leone some days.
Also speaking, LEITI Acting Head of Secretariat Konah D. Karmo said, the program truly supported learning between the two countries. He noted that while Liberia is regarded as a road model in EITI implementation, evidenced by the several gains the country has made over the years, the tour also enabled the Liberian EITI to learn from the progress, challenges and opportunities of Sierra Leone.
The learning exchange focused on Legislative Framework for EITI Implementation, Secretariat Operations, Communications and stakeholders’ engagement in the EITI and challenges and opportunities relating to preparing the EITI Reconciliation Report. Also considered was how political will can impact the success or failure of a country’s EITI program.
To facilitate the learning, the delegates also met with key policy makers in Liberia including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Alex Tyler; the President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Honorable Gbehzongar M. Findley and the Co-Chairman of the House Committee on Mines, Hon. R. Matonekay Tingbah. The delegates also paid a tour visit to Sime Darbay’s Plantation in Bomi, western Liberia, to get experience of how extractive companies’ operations support EITI implementation in Liberia.
Sierra Leone was recognized as EITI Compliant by the international EITI Board on 26 April 2014. EITI compliance entails that the country regularly publishes the government's revenues from its natural resources. The government of Sierra Leone sees the EITI as central plank of its efforts to reform the management of natural resources, which is the second pillar of the country's National Agenda for Prosperity.
Liberia signed on to the EITI in 2005 and was the first African country to become compliant in 2009. The Liberian EITI has made tremendous achievements in the global EITI implementation records. Liberia is the first country globally to include Agriculture and Forestry in its EITI program; the first country to expand its EITI scope to include Contract Transparency; and one of few countries that have regularly published their EITI Reports. Liberia also launched its Post Contract Award Process Audit Report in May 2013, the first of its kind in the EITI implementation.