INFOSOL Technologies Limited, launched the Our Oil Journey online platform project, to keep Ghanaians informed about the allocation and use of oil revenues and thus provide them with a credible mechanism to track developmental projects funded by Ghana’s oil revenue.
With four key objectives including creating awareness on how much money government makes from the oil industry, keeping citizens informed on projects funded by oil revenue and giving citizens the information needed to serve as a check on government and contractors working on various oil revenue funded projects, the Oil Journey platform has already begun monitoring projects in the Greater Accra Region on a pilot basis.
Under the theme, “Empowering Citizens to be Watchdogs over Oil Revenue Utilization,” the launch took place on Thursday, April 7 at the Adasa Royal Hotel in Accra and was attended by major stakeholders and industry players within the oil and gas sector.
Giving his opening remarks as the chair for the ceremony, Kwami Ahiabenu, II, the Executive Director of Penplusbytes said, “It is time for Ghanaians to ensure revenues from the sector is used for development projects and technology platforms such as www.ouroiljourney.org offer simple but practical opportunities to engage citizens on the tracking and use of oil revenues.” He added that advocacy within the oil and gas sector can achieve better results when collective voices of citizens are stimulated to demand for greater accountability.
www.ouroiljourney.org which was developed with support from HIVOS and Making All Voices Count (MAVC) has, as key features, an integrated Mobile, SMS and Voice mail technology translated in the various local languages for ease of use by Ghanaians. It is devised in such a way that it allows citizens access to information on the amount of money Government generates from Oil and Gas exploration and what these monies are being used for in their communities.
Delivering the key note on the utilization of Ghana’s oil revenue, Professor P.K Buah-Bassah, chairman of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), decried Government’s habit of spending oil monies outside of the priority areas. He said PIAC’s 2015 semi-annual report shows oil revenues are expended on social interventions. Something, he described as “not sustainable”; asking government to realign its expenditure to the key priority areas for the oil and gas revenue spending.
Oil Journey platform gnesis can be traced to Penplusbytes’ “Hack4Oil” hackathon held in October 2014 where it beat off competition to emerge as the winning prototype of a tool that stimulates ideas, technologies and innovative solutions to enhance government-citizen engagement and improve the governance of Ghana’s nascent oil and gas industry.
Emmanuel Sackey, the assemblyman for the ‘man momo’ (Old Town) electoral area who was excited to be at the launch, remarked that: “It is common knowledge that the Ghanaian populace has limited or, even worse, close to no idea of how and what the proceeds of what should have been a blessing to the country is used for. This platform will go a long way to keep us abreast with goings on so we can also ask the right questions of our authorities.”
“We are pursuing accountability, transparency and probity of the allocation and utilization of oil and gas revenue in our dear country by bridging the communication gap that has long existed between the masses and the managers of one of Ghana’s largest natural resource finds,” said David Alhassan Mumuni, Project lead for Oil Journey.
Explaining further, he added: “our task is to simply raise citizens’ voices and empower them to hold accountable, the government and stakeholders, as well as track acclaimed projects in their various communities that has funding from the oil and gas revenue.”
Formally launching the platform, Nene Joseph Nii Torgbor Obodai, chief of Ogblogo, and special guest of honour said Ghana’s oil revenue gains can best be felt by citizens if it tackled issues of health, education and sanitation at the community level where the impact would be more direct and measurable.