ACCRA, November 30- Today, organisations from across the African continent are boycotting a consultation meeting in Nairobi organized by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group.

Press Release
November 30, 2004

The organisations claim that the consultation is ill-prepared, rushed and untransparent, and will not provide a meaningful venue for input. Civil society demanded more time, more outreach, more translation, more information and more engagement, but did not get an adequate response.

The IFC is meeting in Nairobi today to discuss new social and environmental standards. The institution is the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, providing financial support for large corporations, including AngloGold Ashanti in Ghana. Many of IFC’s projects around the world have polluted rivers, displaced people, increased corruption, abused human rights and contributed to climate change. Benefits are rarely shared with the communities that are affected. African NGOs including Friends of the Earth groups, Third World Network and CIVICUS claim in a statement that ‘the framework for the Bank’s involvement in Africa’s extractives has been inadequate and unbalanced to meet the developmental priorities and needs of the people and communities.’

Under pressure of transnational corporations, the IFC plans to weaken its standards, thereby endangering people and the environment even further.
Noble Wadzah of Friends of the Earth Ghana said: “IFC’s new standards for social and environmental matters will not be binding upon corporations. While the current policies are weak already, and implementation is problematic, voluntary codes are unacceptable. It would imply that foreign corporations can ruin our resources and livelihoods as they please, while not being accountable. What do we stand to gain? It is time that the World Bank Group reconsiders the way it is doing business and starts to protect people instead of profit.”

The statement, signed by 29 African non-governmental organisations, reads: ‘We would welcome any review that seeks to correct the fundamental imbalances inherent in extractive sector activity in Africa by adopting extractive sector policy frameworks that protect the interests and rights of communities, and promote environmental diversity and national development. (…) The IFC chose the contrary in its review process. We feel strongly that by this choice IFC has subordinated public interest to corporate interest and we feel obliged to spend our time, energy and resources in alternative important endeavours.’

The African statement follows boycotts of consultations of the IFC review in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Manila (Philippines) and London (United Kingdom). Later this week, groups will be protesting outside the IFC consultation meeting in Paris, France.


Noble Wadzah, Friends of the Earth Ghana:
Tel. 0233 51 23 12 or email
Abdulai Darimani, Third World Network: Tel. 0233 50 36 69