Senior Policy-makers from across West and Central Africa called for greater regional cooperation and capacity development to support the effective management and governance of natural resources in their countries.
The respective government experts made the call after an intensive three-day workshop on tax regulation in the extractives industry.
The NEPAD-led workshop which was held in Dakar, Senegal aimed at providing government officials in the mining and fiscal ministries the opportunity to exchange experiences and engage regional and international experts on a range of issues related to the extractives industry sector.
The representatives from both Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) and Economic Community for Central African States (ECCAS)blocs underscored the need for the reinforcement of capacity. The delegates further noted that there are gaps in the negotiating and technical skills between governments and international companies operating in the sector.
The imbalance in technical know-how had often resulted in contracts skewed toward the benefit of foreign companies, they said.
Participants also raised concern about the lack of adequate data in the sector, stressing that much more was needed to ensure access to relevant and reliable data.
However, International legal and taxation expert Mr. Stephen Shay highlighted during the workshop that proper access to quality data was vital as it enabled governments to pursue informed decisions when crafting strategies to effectively engage in complex contract negotiations.
He added that equipped with reliable data, governments in the region would be in a better position to establish robust fiscal regimes and improve transparency.
Member States signaled the critical importance of increased knowledge sharing within the region as well as with other stakeholders working in the extractives industry sector in developing and developed countries.
This, they said, would increase their capacity to develop country-specific legal and tax frameworks which would, in the long term, provide benefits to local populations. A key outcome of the workshop included a request by Member States for the NEPAD Agency to develop a knowledge management platform, which would allow for the effective exchange of much-needed data, information, technical expertise and national experiences.
Additionally, government representatives invited NEPAD to undertake additional training at the national level to further develop capacity and local expertise.
“The exploitation of African natural resources must contribute to the inclusive development and trans formation of our economies. The high number of countries represented at a senior level at this inaugural meeting of the NEPAD Dialogue and Training series under the NEPAD Natural Resources and Governance Programme is a clear indication of the importance of designing tax and fiscal regimes that ensure equity and fairness in the flow of benefits to African governments and their populations,” said NEPAD