strengthen institutions to avoid 'resource curse' (Monday, July 19, 2010 pg 20)

Ghana needs to strengthen institutions mandated to oversee a transparent oil and gas sector in order to avoid the ‘resource-curse’ which has plagued most African countries.

The Vice-Chairman of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, Mr Kwame Jantuah, made the remark in a  key note address delivered at the Re-launching of the  Regional Extractive Industries Knowledge Hub (REIKH) and the Summer School on Governance of Oil, Gas and Mining Revenues in Accra today (Monday).

The REIKH is a centre of knowledge development established by the Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) and the German Technical Co-operation (GTZ) in collaboration with the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).

It is to build the capacity of oversight bodies in Africa to exert their influence on the prudent governance of the extractive sector and to promote effective management of oil, gas, and mining resources.

The hub was established within the context of an extractive industry in Africa confronted by the severe lack of technical capacity and knowledge gaps, such that, oversight bodies like Parliament, sub-national government officials, civil society and the media are unable to participate in decision making as far as the extractive sector is concerned.

The two-week programme, which has participants, from Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania, is to deliberate on ways to effectively manage revenue accruing from the extractive industries across the continent.

It is also aimed at developing regional capacity to provide efficient training and monitoring to grow a critical mass of knowledgeable, skilled human resource base, duly equipped to affect strong oversight and governance of extractive industries and resources.

Mr Jantuah noted that “with the history of tattered development in most African natural resource-producing countries, Ghana now stands at the apex of learning from these experiences to fashion out her emerging oil and gas industry that will make it first of all relevant and beneficial to the people of Ghana before any other interest.”

He commended the government for its efforts to make local content an integral part of the oil and gas sector but reiterated the need to ensure that the policy benefited those it was intended to benefit and not otherwise.

He said in determining the country’s preparedness for the oil and gas sector, the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), remained key as one of its fundamental functions was to undertake Environmental Impact Assessment.

The Dean of the Graduate School of Governance, Leadership and Public Management, Prof. Kwame Frimpong of the GIMPA, in his remarks said the programme would equip all stakeholders in the extractive industry in Ghana with the knowledge and understanding of the proper and effective utilisation of the expected revenues from the oil and gas industry in Ghana.

He urged the participants to critically reflect on ways in which they could transfer their learning experience from the programme for the good of the continent.

The Chairman of the occasion and President of the National House of Chiefs, Naa Prof. J.S. Nabila, who launched the programme commended the organisers and sponsors for the effort.

He said the regular monitoring and evaluation of the extractive industry which was non-renewable benefited the entire population and not a few people.

He said the experiences of other countries that produce oil on the continent should be the guiding principle for Ghana to ensure that the prevailing peace and tranquility was not jeopardised.

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