Transparency and Accountability In Africa’s Extractive Industries: The Role of The Legislature
While current efforts to increase transparency and accountability in the management of natural resources emphasize the roles and responsibilities of a broad range of actors, relatively little attention has been paid to the potential contribution of elected legislators. Yet, the three core functions of legislative bodies – representing constituent interests, making or shaping public
policy, and overseeing policy implementation by executive branch agencies – are central to any effort in this area.
Legislatures that are able to fulfill this role effectively are well placed to help mitigate the various risks that management of oil and other resources may pose. After the discovery of significant oil deposits on Norway’s continental shelf in the late 1960s, for example, contributions from elected legislators helped shape the design of sound management systems for the country’s new wealth.
Rising revenues from the growing world-wide demand for Africa’s oil and other mineral resources could spur broader economic growth and development. The recognition of the need to improve management of the extractive industries in Africa’s poorest resource-rich countries presents a unique opening for legislators to establish themselves as relevant and credible actors in the movement toward greater transparency, accountability and responsiveness in government. Initiatives like the Extractive Industries
Transparency Initiative (EITI) and Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Coalition have drawn worldwide attention to the need for increased transparency and accoutability in the management of extractive industries. The result is unprecedented international political will, information and tools for reforming management of the extractive industries.