The President of the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA), Mr. Ransford Tetteh has called on Ghanaian journalist to take up the challenge of learning to be abreast of issues of the oil and gas industry.
That he said would equip them to provide Ghanaians with credible information on national and international economic trends concerning the oil and gas industry.
Mr. Tetteh who is also the Editor of the Daily Graphic ,was speaking to journalists at an editors retreat on the theme “Strengthening media oversight over the extractive sector particularly on oil and gas “organized by Penplusbytes and the GJA with support from Tullow oil Ghana Ltd.
He said the GJA believed in the training of journalist to enable them to understand the industry and thereby, help the “citizenry to accurately understand its ramification on the local industry and how it tied into the global situation.
“We must not forget that the media has a watchdog role to play to ensure transparency and accountability in the industry right from its embryonic stages” he noted.
Mr. Tetteh said the media must be in the frontline of disseminating impartial news to ensure transparency and good governance in the new industry if it provides the necessary impetus to the country’s economy.
“It is, therefore e, imperative that media professionals strengthen their capacities to inform and educate the citizenry effectively about the industry ‘he said.
The GJA president said since the discovery to the day of the first oil, the expectation of Ghanaians was that it would help improve the country’s economic fortunes.
“That is true, however if one’s assessment of the extractive resources industry in Ghana is anything to go by, then we cannot afford to be entirely optimistic and complacent. The truth is that as a country, we have experience that gold, diamond, bauxite, timber, manganese among others, have not brought us all the fortunes we expected “he observed.
“Oil has been a source of conflict in many countries; but we must not allow that to hound or hunt us, especially when there are examples of other countries with oil and gas that has used them to the benefit and welfare of their people “he said.
Mr. Albert Kan-Dapaah, a former Minister of Energy said it was ad to recollect that the agricultural and information revolutions passed by Africa and as “much as we have tried, we have not been able to catch up with other continents. We missed the Industrial Revolution as well and to date we have not been able to catch up”.
“For now we can only thank our God for the abundance of natural resources especially oil, gas and minerals, and management of revenues from our extractive industries should therefore be a major concern for us “he said.
“Let us not forget that before the discovery of oil and gas, we had minerals. Gold and other minerals have been mined in this country for years and in huge quantities, and South Africa has been the largest producer of gold in Africa and has a lot to show for its gold revenues in terms of economic infrastructure and development in the country. “He said
Ghana ,he said had been the second largest producer of gold on the continent , “indeed today we mine half of what South Africa produces in a year and yet we have nothing to for this”
“With or minerals, oil, and gas, Ghana is now a resource-rich country. But whether we can benefit economically from our new status depends upon good financial accountability and how we govern our extractive industries’ he said.
He said Ghana must be conscious of the significant challenges that awaited us governing our extractive industries, saying governance of extractive industries was very important but also challenging, because the industries especially oil, gas and minerals were associated with large investments secrecy and contest over resource rent, saying bad governance therefore had serious implications.
He said it was a result of such pressure that Ghana announced the new fiscal reforms for the mining sector in the2012 budget, including an increase in corporate taxes from25% to 35%: introduction of 10%windfall tax and ring-fencing of costs.
“for instance ,on account of the oil sector, Ghana became the third largest recipient of FDI in 2011rising from seventh in 2010”,Mr. Kan-Dapaah, noted. He said according to the 2012 World Investment Report issued by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Ghana received $3.2 billion following South Africa’s $5.8 billion and Nigeria’s $8.92 billion.
Mr. Kan-Dapaah said in 2011, although Ghana achieved 14 % growth in the economy, one of the highest in the world, it did not create the anticipated jobs.
He said in 2010, for example, the Minister of Energy promised that 10.000 jobs would be created in the oil and gas industry, while the Ghana Oil and Gas Service providers Association said 100.000 jobs could be created.
He said six years on since the discovery of the oil, the Ministry of Energy reported only 1,500 jobs created in the industry comprising 840 Ghanaians and 660 expatriates .