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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs