News

Ghana Environmentalists Concerned by Oil Law Delay

President John Atta-Mills' government is drafting laws to regulate how oil revenues will be spent and how Ghana's environment will be protected, but that legislation has not yet reached parliament, causing concern among environmentalists.

Activists of Greenpeace dance outside the Ghana embassy to congratulate the Ghana embassy staff on the 'banning of the light bulb' in Ghana, in New Delhi (File)
Activists of Greenpeace dance outside the Ghana embassy to congratulate the Ghana embassy staff on the 'banning of the light bulb' in Ghana, in New Delhi (File)

Multimedia

Audio

Environmentalists in Ghana are concerned about the delay in laws regulating next year's start of offshore oil drilling.  

Ghana's offshore Jubilee Field could earn the country as much as $1 billion a year when it starts producing oil and natural gas next year.

President John Atta-Mills' government says it wants to make sure the windfall benefits the country.  So it is drafting laws to regulate how oil revenues will be spent and how Ghana's environment will be protected.

But that legislation has not yet reached parliament, and environmentalists are concerned the delay could mean oil starts flowing before Ghana is ready.

Hannah Owusu Koranteng works with a non-governmental organization that is helping prepare communities near the oil fields.  In all 28 of those communities she has visited, she says there is still little understanding of the potential environmental impact.

"They did not see the environmental impact statement before it was discussed at the public hearing," said Koranteng.  "So if you ask about what their expectations are they still think that oil production is still going to bring a lot of benefit, and they have not really assessed the environmental issue."

Most of the people near the oil fields earn their living by fishing.  While the lights of the rigs are attracting more fish, the area around the platforms is being fenced off to secure production.

Both the government and oil producers have spoken of the need to protect the local fishing industry.  Kyei Kwadwo Yamoah's civil society group is working to make sure that is more than just talk.

"Whoever the fish provides livelihood for must be given certain incentives to operate," said Yamoah.  "We have formed community environmental management and advocacy groups in each district to build their capacity to engage on the oil, specifically they will be looking at the mitigation measures, how the mitigation measures will be implemented.  And they will also be looking at the issues of corporate social responsibility projects, how it fits into the community development agenda."

Ghana need look no farther than neighboring Nigeria to see how quickly squandered oil wealth can bring violence and environmental destruction.

President Atta-Mills says he is mindful of that example and is determined to learn from the experience of others.

Olive Igbuzor, the International Head of Campaigns for Action Aid Nigeria, says with proper planning, Ghana can avoid the misery that oil has brought to the Niger Delta.

"The civil society in Ghana should be able to engage with government to ensure that the basic principles of proper natural resources and environmental governance are put in place," he said.  "There must be adequate laws and policies put in place even before the commencement of exploitation."

Koranteng says civil society groups are still waiting to see the government's plans for resource allocation and environmental protection before large-scale drilling begins.

"It is important for us to look at all these things, define a policy for us to see how we want to use the oil resource and then ensure that we gain from it," said Koranteng.

A study by the aid agency Oxfam America and Ghana's Integrated Social Development Center says the transparent management of oil funds not only improves public spending, but gives the public greater confidence that their money is being spent wisely.  

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs