Ford Foundation launches $3m fund for CSOs in extractive industry

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
Mr Benjamin Boakye, ACEP Executive Director
Mr Benjamin Boakye, ACEP Executive Director

The Ford Foundation, a non-profit, grant-making organisation, has offered a $3-million grant to the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) to build the capacity of civil society organisations (CSOs) and anti-corruption actors in the natural resource governance space in West Africa.

Dubbed: the Extractive Industry and Climate Change Governance Fund, the grant will be used to support a network of resource governance organisations, budget advocates and community organisations to demand accountability, transparency and equity in the utilisation of natural resources from governments to ensure inclusive development.

The five-year initiative, which will be implemented in Ghana and Nigeria, also seeks to build the climate change action and mitigation strategies of CSOs to preserve the environment.

The $3m fund forms part of the foundation’s $1-billion social bond programme launched in 2020 to help stabilise CSOs following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual launch

The Ford Foundation’s Regional Director for West Africa, Dr ChiChi Aniagolu-Okoye, launched the fund during a virtual programme hosted by ACEP in Accra last Friday.

Participants included the Programmes Officer of Natural Resources and Climate Change at the Ford Foundation, West Africa, Mr Emmanuel Kuyole; the Executive Director of ACEP, Mr Benjamin Boakye; the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD), Mr Senyo Hosi; an honorary Vice-President of IMANI Africa, Mr Bright Simons, and the Executive Director of the Centre for Gender Economics (CGE), Africa, Ms Uchenna Idoko.
Dr Aniagolu-Okoye said beneficiary CSOs would work to address significant policy implementation gaps and also advocate reforms in five critical resource governance areas — revenue and benefit sharing policies, prevalence of resource-backed debts, active citizenship in resource governance, resource extraction with high social and environmental standards, strengthening civic action and advocacy for transparency and accountability in the natural resources sector.

She said it was important for revenues from resource extraction to be equitably distributed to meet the development priorities of the people, particularly those in impoverished communities, persons with disability and communities affected by resource extraction.

Prudent use of fund

Mr Boakye said ACEP would effectively play its coordinating role to ensure that the grant was put to judicious use for the benefit of the people.

“Our commitment is not just to recognise the existence of CSOs but also reach out and work together on common challenges that undermine the fight against inequality, injustice and what can be summarised as illegitimate annexation of the right to decency by a select few. If we represent that fight, then we are better together,” he said.

He described the fund as timely, given that donor support for CSOs had dwindled and the situation further aggravated by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We thank the Ford Foundation for availing $3m to set up the fund to build the resilience of the natural resource and climate change governance ecosystem in West Africa,” he added.