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

    Greenpeace Leak: US-EU Trade Deal Would Favor Corporations

    Activist group leaks classified documents to 'shine a light' on talks that could create the world's largest bilateral trade and investment pact

    Video Ethiopia's Drought Takes Toll on Children

    East African country’s crops failed in 2015, creating food shortages for 10 million – including 6 million children whose development may be compromised

    What Your First Name Reveals About Who You Vote For

    People named Chad are more likely to be Republicans and Jonathans are usually Democrats

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora