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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid