Negotiating transparency: NGOs and the contentious politics of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in Ghana

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Transparency has been upheld by the dominant Zeitgeist of the twenty-first century as an all-purpose recipe for addressing the ills associated with resource-led developmental transformation. However, little attention has been paid to the bargains and contestations accompanying its institutionalisation in resource-rich countries. To gain a fuller understanding of how transparency interventions interact with the deeper vectors of power and politics embedded in resource governance, this article examines the dynamics of NGO participation in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international auditing and multi-stakeholder oversight initiative, adopted by Ghana in 2003. By recasting the analytic problem around the optic of NGO contestation and representation, the article offers a more nuanced engagement with the material politics of negotiability, contestation, and representation that drive EITI compliance, non-compliance, and de-compliance. Drawing from an overall comparative political economy approach and a heuristic model highlighting the intricate dynamics of transparency, the overriding argument ranks the understated contestations within the NGO community around the EITI and the disparity between its platforms and the representational processes of democratic accountability among the most formidable threats to the EITI's noble ambition of securing optimum resource-led transformation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-71
Number of pages14
JournalContemporary Social Science
Issue number1
Early online date7 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • transparency
  • non-governmental organisations
  • extractive sector
  • governance
  • compliance
  • Ghana


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