News / Africa

Warning Signs Gather Over Ghana's Oil Fields

Civil society advocates are calling for more transparency in oil revenue
Civil society advocates are calling for more transparency in oil revenue

While Ghana has just started making money from  its offshore oil, civil society advocates and economists are warning not enough is being done to make sure oil wealth is a benefit and not a curse to Ghanaians.  At a Washington event late Thursday, they said Ghana's government needs to have more planning and transparency to avoid a repeat of the massive corruption and violence that has plagued other oil-rich African countries.

The World Bank country director for Ghana, Ishac Diwan, said the stakes were high for Ghana's new oil reality, as more and more offshore fields are discovered in West Africa's Gulf of Guinea.

"Can Ghana do it is a big question. It would be a premiere actually and it would show the way to the Sierra Leones, the Liberias and Guineas, new democratic Guineas. So it is an extremely important experiment if I may say," Diwan said.

A report gave a grade of C to all involved in Ghana's oil quest
A report gave a grade of C to all involved in Ghana's oil quest

At an event organized by the non-governmental organization Oxfam America, Ghanaian civil society groups presented a report called "Ghana's Oil Boom: A Readiness Report Card."

It gave a mark of Cs, or fair, to all involved in the process, including donors like the World Bank, and civil society groups themselves.

Mohammed Amin Adam said civil society was trying hard but so far failing to get new laws signed and put into effect to force full contract disclosures between the government and oil companies as well as make the government show how it spends its oil revenue.

Adam said this transparency is necessary given the huge expectations Ghanaians have. "If you are transparent of how much you are receiving, how much you are spending, where you are spending it, those expectations will be moderated by themselves.  And so the key here is transparency," Adam said. "And this is why I will even build more expectations back in Ghana to put pressure on our government to invest this money well and transparently so that everybody knows where the money is going to and they can tell realistically what oil can offer and what oil cannot offer."

He also expressed disappointment Ghanaian delegations had been sent to far away Trinidad and Tobago and Norway to learn from their oil experiences, rather than going to nearby Nigeria, to find out more about the difficult lessons learned there.

Another civil society representative, Nana Ama Yirrah, said Ghanaian villagers in western coastal areas nearest to the oil fields were already complaining about higher prices, pollution, fishing restrictions, and a lack of opportunities in the oil sector.

"The skills required for the oil industry is nowhere found within the communities, the kind of businesses that people are managing today in Ghana, the standards within those businesses are not the type that can fit into the oil industry.  So it has become a very dicey issue that production has started and yet people are not seeing what they thought they would see," Yirrah said.

Production started in December, and should reach output of 120,000 barrels per day within the next few months.  Estimates are that Ghana could earn more than $1 billion a year from its existing Jubilee offshore oil field, and that further discoveries could boost these numbers.

Peter Allum, the chief of the Africa department at the International Monetary Fund, said it was essential Ghana's government started making longer budget planning to figure out what to do with this money, and extend the current year to year approach.

"The budget ought to have a medium term vision so there is a clear relationship in the budgetary process between the medium term revenue stream or wealth associated with oil and what is envisaged to be done with that in the way of financing projects over a multi-year timetable," Allum said.

Ghana's ambassador to the United States Daniel Ohene Agyekum said it was important to focus on the positives, and the vibrant debate that is taking place to make sure Ghana's oil is a benefit.

"There is no need to apportion blame to any particular group. We all recognize the good work that as a collective we have done to move the oil industry much ahead of time.  And I am proud to say this as a Ghanaian," Agyekum said.

The ambassador also agreed with other panelists that while a lot of focus is being put on oil, this should not mean Ghana's important agricultural sector should be diminished.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


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