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

    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

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

    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