ACEP Annual Report - 2021

Message from the Executive Director

The year 2021 ushered in continuous efforts by governments and businesses to recover from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the resurgence of multiple variants of the virus, the global economy witnessed relative reactivation on account of the relaxation of restrictions on movement and trade. In addition, the oil industry recovered from the global oil price slump in 2021, with increased exploratory activity and OPEC committing to keep steady production. However, while the pandemic recovery efforts being made by governments across the region are essential to reactivate economies and strengthen the resilience of countries, they present risks and policy threats to the already weak governance that plagues the region in the absence of transparency and accountability mechanisms.

Most African governments have contracted loans to finance their recovery, with some getting interest payments on already procured loans suspended to free up fiscal space for social spending to limit the pandemic’s impact. It is anticipated that in the medium term, repayment for most of these loans will be due. It is important to highlight that the poor utilization of these loans poses the risk of further deepening inequality in most countries when the repayments are due. The history of poor governance and weak systems in the region requires stronger commitments by governments to effectively target the most impacted and economic recovery drivers for the long-term sustainability of the efforts. Unfortunately, the pandemic has given governments the excuse to spend less transparent and accountable manner. This situation introduces significant risks to the gains made by CSOs in the fight against inequality, promoting human rights and responsible governance.

The above context requires a strong activation of efforts from a broad range of stakeholders, including academia, elected politicians, civil servants, communities, civil society, media, businesses, development partners and the general public, to contend with the existing and emerging governance challenges. ACEP is excited to contribute to these efforts by launching the Extractive Industry and Climate Change Governance Fund in 2021. The Centre also took steps to deepen its presence across the West Africa sub region, introduce the Next Generation Resource Governance Leaders Program in line with its focus on promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in resource governance, organised the 7th edition of the Africa Oil Governance Summit (AOGS), and the giant strides it made in toward its sustainability.