Understanding the extractives data community in Burkina Faso
As a 2016 School of Data Fellow, my focus area of work is Extractives Data and I work with NRGI to advance data literacy in that sector in Africa, particularly in Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso is experiencing a mining boom mainly due to the exploitation of gold. With a production of 5.6 tons of gold in 2008, Burkina Faso rose to 36.5 tons of gold exported in 2015 and the projection for 2016 is about 39.6 tons. In terms of revenues, in 2015, the share of mining in budgetary revenues was estimated at about 170 billion CFA francs (about $280 million). This represents a major development challenge for the country and in particular for the local communities around mining sites. Work to monitor and inform communities on these issues is of paramount importance and it is necessary to see the actors involved in that work.
So, a good starting point was to map the community around Extractives Data in Burkina Faso. From May 26th to July 12th 2016, I was able to achieve a clear understanding of who is involved in what and the challenges they face.
Burkina Faso main Civil Society Organizations Coalition (SPONG) Annual Assembly
The open data and Extractives community can be split into 3 categories: Government bodies and Institutes, media and individual data journalists, and Civil Society Organisations.
Government bodies and Institutes
The two main relevant government institutions are the Information and Communication Technology Promotion National Agency (ANPTIC), which leads the Open Data community in Burkina Faso along with the Burkina Open Data initiative (BODI). There are also Institutes such as the National Institute of Statistics and Demography (INSD), the Research Institute for Development (IRD) and the Institute of Science of Population (ISSP), which undertake many socio-economic studies on the impact of mining in Burkina Faso. These Government bodies and Institutes are regularly invited by the ANPTIC to meet, in order to strengthen their relationship and encourage them to open the data in their possession.
The media play a key role in covering all events related to extractives. But their work doesn’t stop there. Some media organisations are even performing in-depth analysis of data to fully inform the country’s citizens. Among the Burkinabe investigative journalists, known for their sharp insights on political issues, some took the decision to follow socio-economic courses, with the aim of becoming better armed for achieving transparency and fighting corruption. The gold mining sector, in particular, is a regular subject of investigation.
Lefaso.net, Burkina24, the blog “Le blog sam la touch” (which features all hot subjects in Burkina Faso), l’Indépendant, l’Économiste du Faso (the first economic weekly journal of Burkina Faso), l’Évènement (a monthly newspaper), and Le Pays are major media actors. Individual data journalists, specifically Justin Yarga and Stella Nana, are among those that are shaking the web with interesting insights around Extractives.
Their main data sources are research institutes and some field surveys and some of the journalists use the EITI data portal to communicate their findings.
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)
The main CSOs involved in Extractives Data are:
- “Chambre des mines” (CMB), a non-profit organization representing the mining private sector. CMB collects economic and environmental data from the mining companies;
EITI Burkina Faso. When it comes to advancing Open Data in Extractives, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), supported by the World Bank Group through a Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF), is a central actor. Burkina Faso* *produces annual EITI reports that disclose the production and revenue of the extractive industries. The latest report published is from 2013;
Open Burkina is a young organization of activists that are active in Burkina Faso’s Open Data community;
Open Street Map Burkina is concerned about the spatial distribution of the mining sites;
BEOG NEERE, an NGO working for human rights, transparency and accountability has conducted studies on gold mining and child labour in Burkina Faso;
Diakonia, Oxfam, Plan Burkina, SOS Sahel International Burkina Faso are major International NGOs that are interested in the social, economic and environmental impact of mining;
“Publish what you pay – Burkina Faso“. Publish What You Pay is a coalition of CSOs working for transparency and accountability, advocating at the policy level for people to get the most benefit of the flourishing mining sector;
ORCADE (Organization for the Reinforcement of Development Capacity) is also advocating at the policy level for open contracts and for the adoption of a mining code that is beneficial to local communities.
Data availability and trainings as the main challenge
Several events gather the community through the year. I have been fortunate enough to attend some of this year’s major events:
- SEMICA, I attended the SEMICA (the annual gathering of actors involved in mining and energy), held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso from May 26th to May 28th.
The SNI, (the National ICT Week) which took place in Ouagadougou from 31st of May to the 4th of June, was also a great place to meet journalists and data journalists interested in mining and sustainable development.
The 3rd event I attended was the General Assembly of SPONG (the main coalition of Civil Society Organizations in Burkina Faso) held in Ouagadougou the 31st of May.
I use these opportunities to administer questionnaires to the people I met at these events, in order to get some insight into their relationship with other actors in the field, the challenges they face in their work and their needs.
As revealed by the answers to the questionnaire, the main challenge of this otherwise vibrant community is still to get companies to release data. Building a strong relationship among community members has helped overcome this issue. “We are facing difficulties to convince data producers to shake things up. But we take it more as a challenge :-)”, said Idriss Tinto, technical manager at BODI. Mr Tinto continued by pointing to the need of more funds to overcome that challenge.
Capacity building is also one the recurrent needs expressed by members of the community. “Getting more access to data and a more tailored and complete training on data processing and data analysis are the main needs”; said Abdou Zouré, Editor-in-chief at Burkina24. Inna Guenda-Segueda, communication manager at CMB, pointed to the need of training on the process to collect data as disaggregated as possible from mining companies. Hence, specific trainings on the data pipeline are needed to support both data journalists and Civil Society Organizations.