News / Africa

New US Law Means More Transparency for Ghana

Artisanal miners dig for gold in an open-pit concession near Dunkwa, western Ghana, February 15, 2011.
Artisanal miners dig for gold in an open-pit concession near Dunkwa, western Ghana, February 15, 2011.
Joana Mantey
A U.S. law intended to encourage revenue transparency and accountability in resource-rich countries such as Ghana will take effect in 2014. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act requires oil, gas and mining companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges to make full disclosures of payments made to governments in countries where they do business. The new law will allow Ghanaians, especially communities that suffer environmental costs on account of these industries, to fight for their rights.

The law covers more than 1,000 international companies including Anadarko, Hess, Kosmos and Tullow Oil - all of which operate in Ghana.

Rights monitoring groups say transparency is badly needed in Ghana.  Boakye Dankwa Boadi is director of communications at WACAM, a non -profit organization engaged in environmental, human rights and mining advocacy. He says some cocoa farms were destroyed at Kenyase in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana to make way for mining activities but the affected individuals are yet to be fully compensated.

Farmers break cocoa pods in Ghana's eastern cocoa town of Akim Akooko September 6, 2012.Farmers break cocoa pods in Ghana's eastern cocoa town of Akim Akooko September 6, 2012.
x
Farmers break cocoa pods in Ghana's eastern cocoa town of Akim Akooko September 6, 2012.
Farmers break cocoa pods in Ghana's eastern cocoa town of Akim Akooko September 6, 2012.
“When they wanted to pay compensation for cocoa farms, they paid less than $10  for a cocoa tree," he explained. "Meanwhile at current prices a cocoa tree could yield about $5 a year. But they paid only $10 for a cocoa tree which will have a life span of over 40 years. So in essence they short changed the farmers”

Transparency advocates say the Dodd Frank law will allow communities to benefit more from oil and mineral extraction because all payments made by foreign companies to the government will be made public.

“When companies sign contracts to do explorations they often make upfront payments called signature bonuses," said Ian Gary, senior policy manager for Oxfam, USA. "Other type of payments are corporate taxes, the royalties that they pay for the projects, customs duties, they even have to disclose whether they have provided payment for infrastructure. For example, if a mining company builds a road, that payment has to be disclosed because of the law.

Ghana has a fair degree of transparency around its mining and oil revenues. The country passed the Revenue Management Act last year to ensure disclosures of government receipts from the oil and gas sectors. But Gary says the new U.S. law will help citizens, parliamentarians and journalists ensure that what companies say they are paying is what government is actually receiving.

“It is a layer of assurance to ensure that not only are numbers being disclosed but these are accurate and real numbers.  For Ghana there is some degree of transparency at the national level but at the local level and the district assemblies, there is very little information about how these district assemblies get and use money,” Gary said.

He added that it is important for citizens to demand accountability and use the information that the new laws will make available.

Gary also noted that oil consuming countries in Europe need to pass similar legislation in order to promote transparency in resource rich countries. Currently, Britain , France and Germany have shown some support for a European Commission regulation in line with the new U.S. law.

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent — Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More