News / Africa

Ghana to Improve Transparency in Oil Contracts

Joana Mantey
In Ghana, efforts are underway to boost transparency in the country’s newly developed oil industry, which some say will likely double economic growth. New rules require the quarterly disclosure of contract agreements and oil revenues as a way of avoiding the corruption that that many African oil exporters call the “resource curse.”

The rules are included in two new laws:  the Petroleum Commission Act and the Petroleum Revenue Management Act. They aim to empower citizens to demand accountability from government as Ghana develops its petroleum sector.

Stephen Manteaw, the chairman of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, describes the legislative push towards openness as a rarity in Africa. And, he says unfortunately, regulations are yet to be developed to make one of the laws workable.  In particular, a public interest and accountability committee has not been set up to monitor the management and use of petroleum revenues. It would also provide a platform for public debate on the spending of the revenues

“There is absence of regulations to the Petroleum Revenue Management Act," he says. "We [had] a similar [issue] in the mining sector where we had the Mining Act in 2006, but it was only in 2012 that regulations to the act were developed. When you have a situation like this, it becomes very difficult to operationalize the law that have been developed to manage the sector.”

Manteaw says a Public Interest and Accountability Committee set up to monitor compliance with the law is poorly funded. The institution has no office space and is currently operating with the support of the German Development Agency and of non-governmental organizations such as Revenue Watch Institute. 

Another challenge confronting Ghana’s oil industry is the failure of companies to reach a target of 12 thousand barrels per day. Current production levels fall between 60 thousand and 80 thousand barrels per day indicating shortfalls in the government’s projected revenues.

Meanwhile, foreign companies continue to dominate the sector. Government policies meant to encourage the participation of local business in the industry is not making much impact. Manteaw attributes the problem to high fees the government has established for any companies wanting to get involved in the lucrative oil business.

“In my view," he says, "these fees are exorbitant. Some of the companies are required to have turnover of up to about five million dollars and pay a subscription fee of 30 thousand dollars renewable on the payment of 25 thousand dollars. This, to many Ghanaians is exorbitant, in fact, unaffordable”.

The government is also encouraging the use of local expertise, goods, services and financing arrangements in the oil sector.

Kwame Djantua is the chief executive officer of the African Energy Consortium.  He says the Petroleum Commission which regulates such policies must do more to train Ghanaians.

“When will Ghanaians take control of the oil industry? What did Brazil do?," he asks. "They invested in their people for their people to go and learn and come back. Trinidad and Tobago did the same, Norway did the same. Why can’t we do the same for Ghana?’

Djantua is not sure whether the oil industry has been managed well in 2012.   For example, by law, oil company agreements with the government must be made public.  But he says the details of some contracts have not yet been disclosed.

“Another issue," he says, "is this collateralization of the revenue and where 70% of the revenue is put into the consolidated fund. How do you target the revenue into projects? Once it goes into the consolidated fund how do you supervise how that money is being spent.”

Djantua says government is voted into power to serve the people, so it has to be open about how oil money is being spent. If it fails to do so, Ghana could join the ranks of other African oil producing nations – where proceeds are unaccounted for and little of it benefits the average person.

Listen to report on Ghana's oil industry
Listen to report on Ghana's oil industryi
|| 0:00:00

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Ernest from: Chicago
December 21, 2012 3:50 PM
Your numbers in regard to production target does not add up, it is wrong.

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs