News / Africa

Ghana Faces Multiple Warnings Over High Oil Growth

An oil rig for oil exploration is pictured at the Port of Takoradi, Ghana, December 4, 2008 (file photo)
An oil rig for oil exploration is pictured at the Port of Takoradi, Ghana, December 4, 2008 (file photo)

While Ghana's oil-fueled economy is now forecast to grow as much as 16 percent this year, the highest rate in the world, economists are warning there remain serious risks the current boom will not be beneficial to most Ghanaians.

An expected 2011 growth figure of 16.3 percent for Ghana's gross domestic product was stated in the recent "African Markets Revealed" report by South Africa's Standard Bank.

A more moderate estimate of 13.6 percent growth for the year was issued last month by Ghana's government.

Whatever the exact number, the jump in growth, which was at five percent last year, is due to Ghana's emergence as an oil producer.

Economists warn there are many risks in this sudden growth, including the so-called "Dutch disease". This can happen when exploiting natural resources leads to a stronger national currency and a subsequent decline in other economic sectors. The name was given after economic problems in the Netherlands followed that country's discovery of a large natural gas field in the late 1950s.

Chris Jackson, a senior economist with the World Bank, repeated the warning at a Thursday Washington event focused on Ghana's future.

"We have got oil, (so) we have got the potential implications of Dutch disease with exchange rate appreciation and the damage that that can do the non-oil booming sectors," Jackson said.

Jackson gave the example of export-crop farmers, whose goods, such as pineapple or cocoa, would become more expensive and less competitive globally.

Ian Gary, an oil expert with Oxfam America, warned Ghana's Jubilee oil field, which went online in December 2010, is underperforming and producing about 80,000 barrels a day, rather than the expected 120,000 barrels.

Gary also expressed concerns that new laws, which took years to craft, are being ignored, such as saving current oil profits to absorb future shocks in world oil prices.

"Instead of putting the surplus into a savings account, the way that the revenue management act called for those were put directly into the budget for spending this year. Another issue that has arisen is the $3 billion loan with China for infrastructure and that loan violates the provisions of the revenue management act.  The revenue management act allows oil to be used as collateral for loans up to 10 years but this would be a 15-year loan," Gary said.

Economists also worried about the so-called oil curse, whereby large oil revenues lead to an abandonment of other economic sectors, environmental degradation, conflict and large-scale corruption.

David Throup, with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Ghana's current political structure may not be suitable to ensure a fair distribution of oil wealth.

"It is a highly centralized political system with an excessively strong presidency.  The president is the center of all patronage and I think the pervasiveness of patronage politics in Ghana does corrode political institutions," Throup said.

The panelists stressed next year's scheduled presidential election, with control of a bigger economy at stake, could be, in their words, fierce.

They also warned the oil boom has not led to much job creation so far, with estimates of more than 80 percent of young people in urban areas still working in the informal sector.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

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