The International Institute of ICT Journalism (Penplusbytes) is a not-for-profit ICT-based organization. The organization has been running “The Reporting Oil and Gas Project”, www.reportingoilandgas.org, aimed at providing a one stop online information and knowledge about Ghana’s oil and gas industry.
Penplusbytes is also the brain behind the “Empowering the Media to Play an Active Watchdog Role over Ghana’s Oil and Gas Revenues and Resources” project, which seeks to improve the coverage of oil and gas stories in Ghana’s media.
As part of the project, an online discussion was set up to serve as a platform where journalists, civil society organisations, public officials, industry players and the general public are brought together to deliberate on pertinent oil and gas issues while at the same time serving as an advocacy platform to demand accountability in the sector for the benefit of Ghanaians.
Summary of online discussion on Local Content
From Monday September 9, 2013 to Thursday September 19, 2013, the first online discussion took place on the topic: “Promoting Local (Ghanaian) Content in petroleum activities: Where is Ghana?” The discussion was very interesting and elicited important suggestions from participants. The following are key highlights of the discussion:
Key criticism of Local Content approach
1. It is unclear how the state is going to empower local entrepreneurs to exploit opportunities in the Oil and Gas sector
2. There is low awareness about Oil and Gas sector opportunities for skills acquisition and certification
3. The actualization of Local Content by way of skills transfer has been moving too slowly
Key recommendations for improving Local Content approach
1. Awareness creation and sensitization on Oil and Gas sector opportunities for skills acquisition and certification must be improved
2. International standards must be demystified and promoted while at the same time developing parallel localized standards which do not offend Quality Principles to improve opportunities for local participation
3. Local content and participation should be conceptualised around spending of revenues, employment and ownership; emphasizing revenue spending in the Ghanaian economy in a manner that adds value to allied (not only directly related) industries can create jobs
4. Government should undertake thorough and realistic audit of the entire value chain and identify where locals can participate more effectively and work to facilitate their participation
5. Clear guidelines for monitoring, evaluating and measuring value addition must be developed and widely publicised to optimize Local Content participation
6. To create a pool of internationally competitive Ghanaian oil and gas sector related businesses, Government should provide financial Capital, using well established and Transparent Criteria
7. Government should groom some selected Businessmen with potential at an “Incubation” Centre and provide them with capital to function effectively without relying too heavily on Bank Loan financing.
8. Consideration should be given to the inclusion of local content in the bidding rounds and the allocation of higher margins for the bidder that will equate the requirements under the local content regulation. This can reduce the current system of prescriptive, command approach to largely performance driven approach which is more acceptable to the IOCs
9. Media should carry out good exposé on projects which IOCs are carrying out in support of local content. This will improve awareness and increase access to opportunities
10. Ghanaians must position themselves for opportunities
11. The draft local content legislation should be disseminated widely across the fringe districts to allow for input from average citizens before its passage
12. The local content legislation should include a provision on capacity building and funding support to facilitate civil society monitoring of local content delivery
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