By Edrissa Jallow, @EdrissaJallow10
The Gambia’s National Audit Office (NAO) and the African Organisation of English-speaking Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI-E) organised a joint week-long multi-stakeholder consultative workshop focusing on the Accountability of Extractive Industries in The Gambia. Starting on Monday 30th January 2023 at the SeneGambia Beach hotel, the event saw participants fly in from South Africa, Norway, Malawi and Uganda to name a few.
One of the main aims of the workshop is to complete the “finalization of the draft risk assessment matrix developed by the NAO for the identification of possible audit areas in the Extractive Industries sector”. Risk Assessment is a method of identifying and analysing potential risks that may negatively impact people and the environment in order to suggest and implement control mechanisms to minimize the resulting hazards. For example, employees may be equipped with Personal Protective Equipment like helmets, gloves etc to reduce the risks associated with working on a construction site.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the NAO’s Deputy Accountant General, Mr Baba S Drammeh explained that the week-long engagement will also call on development partners to direct support towards NAO capacity-building initiatives “to conduct audits in the El sector in fulfilling its Constitutional mandate”.
“With good governance and transparent management, the revenues from El can have an impact on reducing poverty while respecting community needs and the environment. This could also [promote] balanced and fair development that addresses the needs of the poor and treats the environment responsibly,” said Deputy AG Drammeh.
According to the NAO one of the main objectives of the multi-stakeholder dialogue is to “review the current accountability mechanisms in the Extractive Industries sector and recommend ways to bridge identified gaps to enhance transparency and accountability”. The NAO invitation indicates that “the discussions will also be centred on recommendations to mainstream the roles and responsibilities of key players of the Gambia’s Extractive Industries sector to build synergies”.
Energy Minister: Gov’t is Aware of the Need to Improve Governance of the Extractive Industries
One of the key players in the Extractive Industries is the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy whose Minister was present at the opening ceremony. During his opening remarks, Hon Abdoulie Jobe informed delegates present that the need for the Extractive Industries to improve is keenly noted by the government however, he noted that there are “legislations, regulations and the governance structure in the Extractive Industry”.
“We [government] are very much aware that there is the urgent need to improve governance of the extractive industries not only to address the issue of revenue utilization and distribution of benefits but also to address critical issues and challenges of social accountability,” said Energy Minister, Hon Jobe.
In addition, Minister Jobe noted that it is “quite imperative that as managers of resources from the extractive industries, we should be mindful of the emerging social concerns and priorities of communities, governments, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders”.
Minister Jobe assured delegates present of the government’s commitment to enhancing accountability and transparency in the Extractive Industry.
The Technical Director of the African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions for English-speaking countries (AFROSAI-E), Mr Edmond Shoko graced the occasion and challenged participants to make the best use of the week-long engagement. According to their website, “AFROSAI-E is a member-based institution with 26 Auditor-Generals from English-speaking African countries making up [their] Governing Board. The organization was established in 2005 with the shared vision to make a difference in the performance of — member Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs)”.
AFROSAI-E’s Mr Shoko urged delegates present to apply honesty in their work, fueled with the commitment to pass on a better future for future generations. Mr Shoko urged delegates to share their experience in the Extractive Industries and highlighted the importance of unity, knowledge sharing and mutual respect. He reminded Gambian Officials that they are working for the benefit of the people of The Gambia.