Report card: Ghana oil gets a “C”

Mohammed Amin Adam delivers the first report card to Ghana's fledgling oil industry.

The report card is out and Ghana’s overall grade is a “C.”

The government (executive branch), the parliament, the donor partners, the oil and gas companies and civil society all received  average grades of “C” (fair). As Mohammed Amin Adam, National Coordinator of the Civil Society Platform, explained, the objectives of the readiness report and the accompanying report card are to acknowledge progress made to date  and to encourage renewed efforts moving forward. That’s why, according to Amin, the grading system was fairly easy.

There were certainly areas to commend. On transparency and citizen participation, for example, the government received “B” grades. Regarding transparency, the report states, “On the positive side, Ghana’s parliament passed the long-delayed and debated petroleum revenue management bill at the beginning of March 2011. The bill is now awaiting presidential approval. While some issues were hotly debated, there was consensus from both the majority and the minority members of parliament on all the transparency provisions. Should the bill approved by parliament become law, there will be a number of important transparency provisions.”

On the other hand, there were some areas in need of significant effort, including social and environmental issues as well as local content (i.e., jobs and contracts for Ghanaians and Ghanaian companies). These areas received “D” grades.

Of particular concern is the lack of a legal framework for dealing with oil spills: “The institutional weakness in the environmental protection institutions was demonstrated during the investigation into mud spillage by Kosmos Energy. The Committee which investigated the spill and which was chaired by the Deputy Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Dr. Omane Boamah, reported that it could not fine Kosmos for pollution because the Committee was unable to establish the extent of pollution. Moreover, the country’s laws are not adequate to address sea pollution issues. The need for a Sea Pollution Law therefore, as pertains in the United States of America, cannot be overemphasized since the country is yet to face real oil spills and other forms of sea pollution as it steps up upstream activities.”

At the end of the day, the most encouraging sign was not the grades on the report card, but the presence of several officials at the event including a member of parliament, the communications director from Tullow Oil, the World Bank country director for Ghana and a Deputy Minister of Energy. Although some of the officials’ comments were perfunctory and fairly predictable, their attendance at least signaled the recognition of civil society as an important stakeholder in Ghana’s oil development.

One Response to “Report card: Ghana oil gets a “C””

  1. […] the Accra launch of Ghana’s “Oil Readiness Report,” the report authors criticized Ghana’s […]

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