On the brink of new oil windfalls, nation takes unprecedented steps to ensure transparency and public oversight.
The Revenue Watch Institute congratulates the Government of Ghana on its decision to publicly disclose all present and future contracts with oil companies. While citizen groups and international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the International Finance Corporation have called upon countries to disclose these contracts, very few countries actually do.
“Ghana stands poised to become an important player in Africa's oil industry,” said Karin Lissakers, executive director of the Revenue Watch Institute. “This plan for increased transparency helps secure Ghana's stability amid the current financial crisis. We applaud the government for its leadership and its commitment to strengthening public oversight.”
In 2007, British and American companies discovered an offshore oil reserve in Ghana estimated at between 600 million and one billion barrels. The finding of the Jubilee Field has driven the country into an “oil fever.” However, Ghana's excitement remains tempered by the experience of its oil-rich neighbor Nigeria, which continues to labor under the corruption, conflict, and poverty too often associated with the “resource curse” of abundant oil and mineral wealth.
“West African countries have struggled to harness natural resources for broad-based economic development,” said Lissakers. “Transparency is an essential tool in that effort, and this new policy has tremendous power to ensure the effective use of Ghana's oil revenues.”
With a history of successful democratic elections and sound economic development, Ghana may be in a better position than Nigeria and other African neighbors to turn its newfound oil wealth into lasting prosperity. Ghana's leaders have already demonstrated a commitment to transparency in the nation's more mature mining sector with their decision to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). It is also one of the few countries making significant strides towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
The Revenue Watch Institute hopes that Ghana will extend the new transparency policy to mining contracts and add the oil sector to the Ghana EITI process already underway.
The Revenue Watch Institute (www.revenuewatch.org) is a non-profit policy institute and grantmaking organization that promotes the responsible management of oil, gas and mineral resources for the public good. With effective revenue management, citizen engagement and real government accountability, natural resource wealth can drive development and national growth. RWI provides the expertise, funding and technical assistance to help countries realize these benefits.