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

AU Takes Action on Boko Haram, Defers on S. Sudan

African Union is moving forward with a request for a military force to stop the spread of Boko Haram insurgency in West Africa; Ban Ki-moon welcomes decision to form a five-nation force More

Mass Protests Held for 58 Killed in Pakistani Shi'ite Mosque Bombing

Thousands of Shi'ite Muslims took to the streets across Pakistan Saturday to protest a powerful bomb blast at a mosque in Sindh province during Friday prayers, killing dozens of people More

Williams Wins Australian Open with Straight-Set Victory over Sharapova

The win is Serena Williams' sixth in Australia, and her 19th overall Grand Slam title More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid