Economics of Information: Developing Partners Change Tact in Approach to Extractive Sector

Over the last decade, the international oil and gas industry as well as the extractive sector has witnessed considerable changes; from the dynamic price and investment cycles to emergence of frontier countries announcing significant hydrocarbon discoveries. In addition, traditional oil producing countries have witnessed substantial increase in oil and gas related operations and activities. These latest developments require appropriate policy approach that will see natural resource not translate into a resource curse.

Interesting to note is the change of tact that has led to different approaches especially on the lens that development partners look into the extractive, as well as the oil and gas sector, in the recent past. The development partners have realised that a lot of donor funding has gone into waste without much results being realised hence leading to resource course in this sector. It’s indeed very true that one cannot obtain different results from doing things the same way. The development partners have realised the truth in this maxim and have adopted a totally different approach in the quest to make sure natural resources translate into Economic benefit their host countries.

One such developing partner, through its funding arm DFID, is the UKaid. As a result of the research they recently conducted, one of the key findings indicated one way in which resource rich economies can avoid pit falls is by availing information to all key stakeholders in these sectors. I have personally found this plat form an interesting tool in my research endeavours on oil and Gas. Extractive Hub; a facility that was developed as a result of the research findings that revealed somewhat information inadequacy in this sector .The extractive hub is basically an exciting online platform (https://beta.extractiveshub.org/login/register) resource designed to support policy makers, government officials, regulators, industry, the academia, civil society and all other key stakeholders to engage in and find information about their country’s oil and gas and extractive sector as a whole. It currently focuses on 28 countries and the information provided is toll free. Through the hub’s website one is able to access, for example, petroleum contracts sharing agreements that governments have entered into with the exploring company. More over the hub has a supporting technical assistance which is provided for free upon request by the governments on specific tailored thematic issues revolving around the extractive sector that can develop short-training programmes for the resource persons in their country.

Key stakeholders can sign in on the hub using their email address either as individuals or cooperate entities. One of the benefits that I found while using the hub is that for researchers in the oil and gas sector, lots of policy documents and laws are available on all the 28 resource rich economies. This presents a situation that can lead to analysis comparison say like, a researcher or a policy maker may want to make comparison of a certain thematic issue such as Transfer pricing or local content by navigating through these countries. Making comparison, one is able to see available policy documents in these different countries and how a certain issue is being addressed.

Another key resource platform on dissemination of information is the Extractive baraza which is a DFID funded project through its link: http://www.extractives-baraza.com/. Through it, one is able to find relevant case laws, policy documents and follow conversations on key relevant topics around extractive and oil & gas sectors especially in Kenya. This way the general public is equipped and informed, connected and able to use that information to put government to account on various issues that are of public concern in the sector, in addition the Extractive baraza offers a platform through which different key stake holders meet and deliberate on policy issues that affect this sector that is still at nascent stage of development. Of interest to note is the recent deliberations on the Local content Bill on oil and Gas currently before the Kenyan parliament the Extractive baraza brought together different stake holders a situation that so significant input from key sector players including the community hence enriching the bill especially on several issues that had been contentious.

It’s through this kind of dialogues and avenues that offer and propels decent conversation and resolutions which encompass everyone that will translate to economic benefit and transform its society hence avoiding the pitfalls.