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 Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid