Is Ghana Serious About Its Natural Resource Exploitation For Its Development Agenda?

Feature Article Is Ghana Serious About Its Natural Resource Exploitation For Its Development Agenda?
JUN 6, 2020 LISTEN

“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” ― Haile Selassie I

For many years now, many of us have been concerned about the predation, plunder, pillage, the open thievery, looting and exploitation of our natural resources by foreigners not only in “galamsey” and rosewood but also in the new oil and gas sector, all in the name of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Big Shame To Ghanaians.

Between January 2014 and December 2016, Ghana reportedly lost about $10.6 billion in gold smuggling alone. No one has accounted for the loss in diamonds, manganese, timber, with only rosewood getting some attention.

$10.6 billion of gold smuggled? What about the value of the one smuggled between 2000 and 2013 and between 2017 and 2019? Can somebody answer the ‘village’ economist and analyst?

And you say I'm not qualified to talk about those things and criticise those at the helm of affairs, under whose watch those things occurred? Come on! Let's be serious for at least a day in 2020.

Ghanaians must wake up or perish in the hands of vampire multinationals and their criminal accomplices perpetrating those economic crimes against them.

I don't care whose ox is gored. 'Truth is God,' said Mahatma Gandhi.

Again, between January 2011 and December 2018, Ghana lost over $9 billion because it signed very bad, obnoxious and retrogressive oil contracts with the so-called foreign investors.

A Professor of Economic History of the University of Cambridge, Gareth Austin, has identified the country’s oil find as a vital and valuable resource that needs careful management to aid accelerated national development. According to Prof. Austin Gareth, “It will be better to keep the oil find underground if its exploitation will go to benefit expatriates or foreign investors at the expense of nationals.” He said this in September 2017, while delivering a keynote speech at a public lecture organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) on the theme: “Ghana’s Economic History, 60 Years after Independence”. He said with non-renewable resources such as oil, it was important to have government ownership rather than foreign ownership and added that, “there is need for the government to own the find and if pushed to the limits, the option is to keep the oil find on the ground”. Wow! But yet, Ghanaian leaders refused to heed to the wise counsel much earlier because it was coming from us Ghanaians; and rather keep moving in the wrong direction to our eternal resource doom. What a country with such a stone-deaf and dim-witted political and technocratic elite whose vision cannot go beyond their opaque and very narrow interests!

In this 21st century, where countries are deriving full benefits and having enough money from their resources to develop their countries and create opportunities for their citizens to have some good life, Ghana has become the El Dorado where these foreigners come and loot us in the public glare, with the full connivance of some fellow Ghanaians. My heart bleeds for this beautiful country. Leadership has failed us big time. Laws have not worked an iota. Institutions have become dysfunctional. The country has become an open field where all kinds of people from all over the world are rushing to cash in on the free booty and go scot free. Is that how we administer and manage a country's natural resources, the blood life of every economic development?

After the country’s leaders have done that big harm to the citizens, our leaders tell us there is no money in the coffers of the country. Most of our statal and para-statal institutions cannot and cannot not receive their statutory financial allocations to function as early as possible. MMDAs are often in arrears for about one to two quarters, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is almost collapsing, if not collapsed yet. Hospitals do not have enough supplies of medicines and have almost cunningly reverted and resorted to the old Cash and Carry system. Contractors are not paid for years after completing their projects. In the midst of all this, our leaders are not even ashamed. They go abroad with cups in hands looking for crumbs and handouts in the form of grants, aids and loans.

The new trend now is to go raise money from the international market in the form of bonds and Eurobonds with their attendant long term implications on the economy, while in our own soil, in our own backyards, billions of dollars of our resources are being looted and siphoned away by foreigners and their Ghanaian accomplices and subalterns. For example, Ghana has issued Eurobonds eight times in our past; 2007-$750million for 10year, 2012-$1billion for12-year, 2014-$1billion for 12-year, 2015-$1billion for 15-year, 2016-$750 million for 5-year, 2018-$2billion for 30-year, 2019-$3billion for 30-year and again this year 2020-$3billion for 41-year. All these loans have been contracted for long term, the latest being the longest on the African continent.

The West which is the greatest culprit and beneficiary of and in all this, will be doling out as loans our own money that they have looted through their Multinational Companies and empires spread all over Africa, which are raping, plundering and pillaging African resources. Every year all these Western conglomerates take more from Africa than they bring in as FDIs or Oversea Development Assistance (ODA). What a perverse world we have been made to accept as normal!

It really pains me to see poverty in Ghana and the rest of Africa. A country and continent so endowed with natural resources that can take everyone from poverty and make every citizen a first class citizen. But what do we see today? We are called a middle income country with third world characteristics. Formerly, we went Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) but now we can rightly be called Highly Indebted Middle Income Country (HIMIC). How pathetic!

Who will save us? A new crop of LEADERS who would have received two types of education: personal Afrocentric type of education and modern leadership skills imbued with development and governance knowledge based on problem-solving rather than position-occupancy. These two things, when well combined, can do the trick for Ghana and Africa. Are you ready for that wave of leadership in Africa? I am ready. Hope you are too.

A Wounded and Bleeding Ghana.

"Politics is too important to be left to politicians alone," Kofi Annan.

After losing out on minerals over many centuries of exploitation, pillage and plunder by the Caucasians, our leaders have gone on the same slippery and dangerous trajectory with our new oil discoveries. When President Kufour was presented with the first sample of the oil from the Jubilee Field in June 2007, he said something that I would like to quote here: "Oil is money, and we need money to do the schools, the roads, the hospitals. If you find oil, you manage it well, can you complain about that?"

"With oil as a shot in the arm, we're going to fly, going to really zoom, accelerate," he said. "And if everything works, which I pray will happen positively, you come back in five years, you'll see that Ghana truly is the African tiger for development."

Kufour dismissed suggestions that Ghana may follow in the footsteps of other countries that have mismanaged their oil wealth.

“Some are doing it well and I assure you if others failed, Ghana will succeed because this is our destiny to set the good pace for where we are. So we’re going to use it well,” he said.

Indeed, almost ten years down the line, look at the pitiable, pathetic and sad story of Ghana, the African tiger former President prophesied her to be.

Below are the figures for production and revenue earned from the Jubilee Field from 15th December 2010 to 31st December. 2018.

Total Production: 315,021,308 million barrels

FOCs Take: 257,689,986 million barrels (about 80.5%).

GoG Take: 53,444,527 million barrels (about 19.5%)

Total Revenue: $ 24,083,353,858

Due Ghana: $ 5.013 Billion

Due FOCs: $ 19,116,353,855 Billion

Speaking at the launch of the nation’s latest Floating Production and Storage Offloading (FPSO) vessel named after him in Singapore, the former president John Agyekum Kufour had this to say, “we still grapple with a lot of economic and social difficulties in our bid to make our oil find a ‘blessing and note a curse.”

According to him, “although Ghana is now counted among the oil-producing countries in the world, our country is yet to become the ‘land of milk and honey’ that many pray for”.

Former President J. A. Kufour has bemoaned Ghana’s inability to capitalise on its oil find to become a nation that rubs shoulders with other oil producing countries but the crux of the problem started with him when he signed an agreement with KOSMOS and Tullow which breached the existing Petroleum Laws in the country, PNDCL 64 and 84 and gave KOSMOS and Tullow the cash cow that the Jubilee Fields have turned out to be. He set the unwholesome precedence followed by the NDC despite our persistent admonitions and cries not to thread that perilous path. Alas! Greed overcame them!

Prof. Austin Gareth further explained: “How Ghana uses the oil is crucial, both the use and abuse of oil revenue is very important. It can create jobs for the construction industry when oil prices are high and reverse the case when prices are down; Oil can be used to reinforce growth of the country and build infrastructure.”

But the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) released some damning report about how the Government of Ghana has been misusing the oil and gas revenue. Some of the monies couldn’t be accounted for, some projects mentioned in previous budgets are non-existent on the ground, those constructed too are of poor quality and/or uncompleted and abandoned, etc. What a joking country!

After almost 10 years of oil production, the FOCs made over $19 billion while Ghanaians, the sovereign owners of the resource, made just a little over $5 billion. All the money invested into the exploration, development and production so far is put at about $4.5 billion, to which Ghana is a contributor too in hundreds of millions of dollars. When our leaders are challenged on why Ghana is getting such low shares, they answer that, "we did not invest anything and that the FOCs brought in the money and the technologies." All that is a calculated and shameless lie forced down the throats of gullible Ghanaians who can't read or have refused to read, to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Their warped, closed, slavish and out-of-use mind and mentality is now stinking high in almost all national decisions, policies, programmes and projects. They have sold almost all conscience to the Caucasians and Asians and are doing as much harm, or arguably worse as in the Congo, to the masses as the slave raiders and masters of centuries past. The white slave traders were realising what they considered as a super profit of 30%. Can our brilliant economists and accountants calculate for us what the yield is on the Jubilee cash cow?

We can learn best practices from others in other jurisdictions. It is not rocket science. The Kenyan Government tried it on Turkana County people (spear-wielding cow herds); they said “No way. The resource belongs to us. You cannot do that thing here.” The law was changed to give them a fair share of the revenue from the negotiated government 60% share from the Production Sharing Agreement the same Tullow agreed to with Kenya.

Ghanaians, how much is your share in Jubilee and all the agreements signed so far? Well, it appears the chiefs and prominent people in the Western Region have been taken care of with some oily handshakes and told, after all, the oil and gas are far in the ocean, not on their lands. People of Anlo, Keta, Ketu, South Tongu and Ada East, and all other districts in the Voltaian Basin, I ask you: How much is your share ownership in Keta Delta Block and the Voltaian Basin? Did you know you may be relocated when there is a find? How are you getting organised to demand fair share of the oil revenue, since your lands are going to be expropriated? This one, at least, part of it is on solid land, the lands that your forebears fought with their blood to possess and preserve for you. What are you going to do now, that a very unique opportunity has presented itself to you that you can seize and win gallantly for your posterity? You sit down there in your homes and look on for the predator to do you irreparable and irreversible hurt and damage? Oh! I am pained. My heart bleeds every minute of the day for my homeland and my kin and kith.

Shame unto you, you leaders! Shame unto you, citizens! You must fight tooth and nail and get your fair share and demonstrate until those obnoxious, evil-intended contracts are cancelled. You think it is impossible? No, go ask Kenyan Turkana Masai people, since your vaunted book-long people have failed you. They will teach you the trick of how they did it.

Your children and grandchildren will curse you if you don't defend and protect the oil and gas resources for them as others are doing.

After all, the money the FOCs have taken out of Ghana, all these ten years, is it not more than all our loans, grants and aids? Are we so mentally poor, to allow our natural resources being pillaged and plundered in daylight robbery all in the name of bilateral trade and FDI?

Article 257 Clause 6 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana states that “every mineral in its natural state in, under or upon any land in Ghana, rivers, watercourse throughout Ghana, the exclusive economic zone any area covered by the territorial sea or continental shelf is the property of the Republic of Ghana” Ghanaians are sovereign owners and beneficiaries of the oil and gas resources. The Foreign Oil Companies are finders and traders. They cannot take more than the rightful owners. They have their level of profit to make. They cannot create value for their investors more than the possessors of the resources. There is the gold standard, the best practice. Ghana currently is the ONLY country on the planet Earth where FOCs take more revenues than the host country. There is no single country the whole world doing what Ghana is doing with its resources. Ghana has freely given its oil and gas resources to the Multinationals. We have lost it again in the 21st century. What a shame!

Leaders and politicians in Ghana, beware, and be HIGHLY conscious of your actions and decisions now. You are working against generations unborn, a sin Mother Nature will not pardon you for.

The Good book says in Proverbs 29:1 that: "when righteous men are in authority, the people rejoice, but when evil men bear rule, the people mourn." Ghanaians are mourning. Can’t you hear their mourns?

Joel Degue ([email protected])

Resource Development Expert/Consultant,

Founding Member/Secretary, Centre for Natural Resources and Environmental Management (CNREM)