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Ghana: Who Will benefit From Oil?

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Ghana, Citizen Media, Development, Economics & Business, Environment

When UK firm Tullow Oil [1]announced its discovery of 600 million barrels of oil in Ghana in 2007, the blogosphere responded with variegated tones of hope and cynicism. After two years since the detection, the country has begun to prepare for oil production, but the current discussion hovers around the questions: “Who benefits and what could be the future ramifications of decisions made by Ghana’s leaders today?”

Charles Crawford, at Blogoir [2], commented on a piece [3] written by Craig Murray [4]  analyzing the cause and effect of Ghana’s oil find. He wrote this about Murray’s article:

At the same time, revenue must urgently be directed to rural infrastructure, to increasing farm prices and developing agro-processing industry, on a scale not previously attempted. Ghana already has a major problem keeping young people in farming. Think how much this will worsen when oil starts to flow.

Why should young people stay on farms now that the country is going to get rich? Ghana as the anti-Nigeria, ie a new hi-tech Singapore-style place rather than a typical agriculture exporting African country?

Is not the point of acquiring such largesse that it gives a country the chance to look at quite different options, not merely ways to impose top-down solutions based on old ideas?

A comment posted in response to the blogger’s statement by someone named Craig Murray read:

Because William Cobbett [5] Was Right! 

Crawford’s remark about the youth still working on farms, despite the country’s apparent road to riches, has been on the minds of Ghanaians. Ghana Pundit  [6]  posted a piece [7] by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) which addressed similar concerns:

Dr. Edward Omane Buamah, Deputy Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, has observed that the oil and gas find in the Western Region, has made unemployment among the youth in the area a big issue.  

Speaking at a special hearing on the Environmental Impact Assessment for the development of the first phase of the Jubilee Oil Fields, organised for the Western Region House of Chiefs in Sekondi, he said the region had not benefited from natural endowments like the sea, gold, bauxite, timber and other minerals.

Dr. Buamah said it was therefore normal for the youth to expect better employment prospects from Ghana's oil find.

He said direct employment into the upstream oil industry required high level of professional competence and qualification, hence the need for the youth to improve themselves to be able to take full advantage of the numerous ancillary job opportunities, which would be generated by the emerging industry.

Ghana Pundit [6]posted another article  that touched upon a new area of concern:

Ghana’s oil find if not properly managed could spell crisis comparable to what is happening in Nigeria’s restive Niger Delta region.

A respected legal practitioner and lecturer at the University of Ghana, Law Faculty, Dr. Raymond Atuguba has chillingly revealed that militants in the Niger Delta region, notorious for blowing up oil pipes, kidnapping and demanding huge ransoms and causing unrest in the oil rich Nigerian region have started tripping to Ghana in droves.

Dr. Atuguba in an interview on the Citi Breakfast Show on Wednesday said the essence of militants’ interest in Ghana is to mentor folks in the Western Region of Ghana, on whose offshore, the country will be drilling oil to be protective of their interest.

A blog entry posted on President Atta Mills [8]’  official campaign site [9]stated:

President John Evans Atta Mills on Thursday reminded Kosmos Energy [10], one of the companies involved in the nation’s oil find in the Jubilee Fields of Cape Three Points, to be mindful of social, legal and corporate responsibilities so that local people would be part of the process and feel its benefits.

He urged the company to make use of available Ghanaian expertise as well as insulate the people against any challenges that would emanate from the drilling of oil.

A comment, in response to this post, by Ofori Amooako Elijah read:

The drilling of the oil must benefit the people of Ghana more especially, it should [be] a step in creating employment.