Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing a significant oil boom and the injection of large amounts of revenues from oil, gas and mineral extraction presents an enormous challenge. This money should serve as a basis for economic growth and poverty reduction across Africa, yet history shows that resource revenues have not generally contributed to better development outcomes. Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa, such as Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Sao Tomé and Principe, and Angola are rich in oil and/or minerals and, while their experiences often vary, these countries display important similarities and complementarities. In this context, civil society organizations from these countries have expressed a need to better coordinate in order to facilitate exchange and learn from each other’s experiences. Sao Tomé and Principe in particular is attempting to ensure its future oil wealth is harnessed for development by introducing legislation designed to ensure transparent management of oil revenues.
The Publish What You Pay (PWYP) campaign aims to ensure transparency over the payment by companies and receipt and management by governments of oil, gas and mining revenues in resource-rich developing countries so that citizens can hold their government to account for the expenditure of this important income. International Alert has been implementing a conflict prevention project in Sao Tomé and Principe since 2004, designed to help prepare civil society, parliament and the media for the advent of oil.
The PWYP coalition, International Alert and UNDP organized a roundtable discussion Oil Revenue Management in Sao Tomé and Principe (STP), and Regional Coordination Meeting of Civil Society from Portuguese-speaking Countries, which took place in Sao Tomé and Principe from 29 to 31 October 2007. The Roundtable Discussion was opened by His Excellency Fradique Melo Bandeiro de Menezes, President of the Republic of Sao Tomé and Principe, and included civil society participants from Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Sao Tomé and Principe; representatives of government, oil companies, and the private sector in Sao Tomé and Principe; international experts; and representatives from Columbia University, Global Witness, Open Society Initiative for Western Africa, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa – Angola , and Revenue Watch Institute.