|Members of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas were on Monday asked to build their capacities to be able to mobilise inputs of citizens for policy formulation and the enactment of laws for effective governance of the sector.
Mr Sofo Ali-Akpajiak, official of Social and Institutional Development Health Partners, Ghana, gave the advice in a presentation at the 2nd Annual General Meeting of the Platform in Accra.
He said as part of efforts to improve the management of the oil and gas resources and the collection of revenue, government has initiated institutional reforms.
Mr Ali-Akpajiak said the reforms involved stakeholder consultations, and yet civil society was not adequately positioned and generally lacked knowledge about the industry and could not participate effectively in the process.
He called on members of the Platform to acquire in-depth knowledge in the oil and gas sector to enable them to hold public institutions and duty bearers accountable for the efficient and effective utilisation of Ghana’s oil and gas resources.
Mr George Mireku Duker, a member of the Platform, presenting a report of the Coordinating Secretariat of the Platform, said the discovery of oil and gas reserves in Ghana’s offshore maritime area, west of Cape Three Point in the last few years has shot Ghana up as the new hydrocarbon hub of Africa.
He said Ghana, according to the International Monitory Fund (IMF) projection, could rake in a cumulative US 20 billion dollars in oil and gas revenue in the next 20 years from the Jubilee field alone.
“The Platform, which has been in existence for barely three years has so far played a significant role in the development of the requisite governance frameworks for Ghana’s oil and gas industry, and it continues to focus on issues of transparency and accountability, which now reflects strongly in the policies and legislations that have been passed by Parliament.”
Mr Duker said Ghana faced challenges of sustainable and transparent management of its hydrocarbon resources and the Platform would continue to have common positions and strategies of articulating best practices for consideration by government in the management of petroleum resources.
“This, I believe, will continue to help manage the high expectations among Ghanaians and the potential of rising oil nationalism that could threaten national stability and national development.”
Mr Duker said the passage of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (Act 815) and Petroleum Commission Law have paved way for the establishment of the Petroleum Commission and Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC).
He said that these developments had brought hope to some Ghanaians that the country was committed improving oil and gas resources than its oil producing neighbours had done.
Mr Duker said: “despite transparency and accountability provisions in the oil laws so far passed, there are still important areas for improvement, including the passage of laws on the Exploration and Production Bill, local content regulations, ensuring environmental compliance, stronger emphasis on the social dimension of EIA processes, disclosure of contracts, open bidding for oil blocks among others.”
He said that over the period under review, the Platform has enjoyed the cooperation of the government, especially the Ministries of Finance and Economic Planning and Energy as well as Parliament.
“Ladies and gentlemen our efforts to ensure that Ghana transparently and sustainably convert her petroleum resources into lasting benefits for her people with minimum environmental damage and social conflicts has just began,” Mr Duker assured.