Ghana’s new oil industry should serve as a catalyst for an accelerated development through the diversification of her economy, and be competitive to create employment opportunities for her people.
According to the Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission, Mr. P.V Obeng, the emerging Petro-chemical industry should be used as a spring board to bridge the infrastructural gap existing on the energy sector.
He was speaking at a two day international policy conference in Accra, under the theme: “Competitiveness and Diversification: strategic challenges in petroleum –rich economy”. He noted that although Ghana was endowed with so many resources, it has not been able to resolve the paradox of scarcity in the midst of plenty.
According to him, the emergence of oil and gas should serve as “a the sacrificial lamb for the diversification of the Ghanaian economy, and give her better access to be competitive and create employment opportunities.”
He said the emergence of oil production should serve as a catalyst for the diversification of the Ghanaian economy, leading to the revamping of the various industries, such as the defunct glass manufacturing industry and the bauxite industry, among a host of other industries that are sitting as white elephants, due to their uncompetitive nature.
He noted that the emergence of the Petrochemical industry should help the country’s efforts at expanding its industrial base to become globally competitive.
The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. J.S Annan also underscored the strategic development of the energy sector as a key element for accelerated development.
According to him, the strategic importance of energy as an engine for economic growth and development of countries cannot be under emphasized.
He further noted that the key to unlocking the value of petroleum in Africa is increased investment in the sector. He said it was necessary for African countries to find ways of collaborating on strategies to attract private sector partners both domestic and international to invest more in the petroleum sector for the benefit of the people of the continent.
One of the main speakers at the conference, Inge Amundson, in his paper on “revenue management: corruption challenges and redistribution” delved into how corruption in the petroleum sector adds to the resource curse, and in particular how corruption undermines the institutions and practices of good governance and revenue distribution.
He warned that corruption and economic mismanagement could take place all along the value chain, emphasizing that the cost and consequences can be severe, depending on the extent of oversight and control, and of checks and balances in the system.
“The solution to such problems lies particularly in the institutionalization of public control mechanisms and in the ring fencing of informal practices. It is a question of the ability of Ghana’s public, as well as private institutions to control and withstand the pressures for extraction (privatization and usurpation of the oil wealth and public money) and favouritism (cleintelism,patronage,elitism), he concluded.