In late 2021, ITSCI rolled out electronic data collection as a new tool to further develop the Burundian government’s capacity in the 3T mining sector and greatly improve data accuracy, transmissivity speeds and reliability as well as work efficiency.
After seven years of implementing the ITSCI Programme in Burundi, the positive impact is evident on the ground amongst stakeholders. Miners and local communities benefit from the revenue from mining activities, which improves people’s livelihoods. Mining companies that fully implement supply chain risk mitigation procedures developed and overseen by ITSCI comply with OECD due diligence guidance, and the government has greater visibility and oversight in the 3T mineral sector for the purposes of taxes and royalties. ITSCI continually seeks to improve its systems and, funds permitting, adopt new technologies where relevant and aligned with our objectives for data management and supporting governments in building capacity and improving governance in the 3T mineral sector.
In 2019, ITSCI began collaborating with the Burundian government to develop a mobile app and operational procedures. ITSCI signed a memorandum of understanding in 2019 with the primary implementing partner in Burundi, namely Office Burundais des Mines et Carrières, or the Office of Mines and Geology (OBM). Despite setbacks in 2020 related to the COVID pandemic, ITSCI and OBM continued working diligently to refine and test the technical, procedural and logistical aspects of the mobile platform until its launch in late November 2021.
The mobile app is installed on a ruggedised tablet which is used to scan bar codes on tags. The application is user-friendly, with a simple, multilingual interface and has online and offline functionality. It captures production, processing, and export data and related information. Mineral receipts are printed immediately at sites which facilitates mineral trade. The data is transmitted either in real time or a few days later.
Whilst paper-based systems are fit-for-purpose in the region and have served ITSCI well, the new electronic system enables OBM to overcome challenges related to delays from aggregating and transmitting data manually. It is also expected to reduce incidents related to the chain of custody – the most common type of ITSCI incident reported in Burundi and intended to eventually replace paper logbooks.
OBM agents and the ITSCI field team have already seen improvements in making their work easier and more efficient. As OBM’s Operations Director stated during the opening remarks for a training session in Bujumbura on 29 November, “we thank ITSCI for the improvement they are making and for the availability of the budget for the new tool”. An ITSCI Field Officer in Burundi, meanwhile, is seeing that the electronic data collection will mitigate errors from the field and enable real-time data collection, making the overall workload of managing ITSCI’s extensive database faster and smoother. The electronic data collection system in partnership with the Burundian government is a groundbreaking step to improve the local implementation of the ITSCI Programme and serves as a model ITSCI intends to replicate in other areas in the near future.