Tomorrow marks the birthday of President Nkrumah. Nkrumah, Ghana's first democratically elected leader, was much-maligned by the lackeys of neocolonialism and imperialism in our country. Like their Western sponsors, they understood correctly, what they would personally lose, if Nkrumah was able to achieve his dream of an industrialised Africa, with a common market, because the West would no longer have access to our continent's natural resources, and no longer be able to sell Western manufactured goods to Africans, in what for them at the time was a captive market.
As one reminisces about the era of the remarkable Nkrumah, and his impact on the black race, one can't help feeling that if only the more responsible sections of the Ghanaian media had the nous and gumption to focus on the effects of the mental slavery, which still makes it possible for vested interests abroad, to continue having a hold on our country's natural resources, it will speed up the transformation of our homeland Ghana into a prosperous and egalitarian society, akin to those of the Scandinavian nations.
It is time journalists in this country ended their cosy relationships with political parties and members of our nation's mostly-self-seeking political class, and spoke truth to power instead, by holding our nation's ruling elites to account in the management of our nation's affairs. How many journalists, for example, are aware of the nation-building work done by patriotic citizens running radical organisations such as Prof Lungu's - http://www.GhanaHero.com and Fair-Trade Oil Ghana (FTOS-Gh/PSA)? Incidentally, patriotic and independent-minded Ghanaian journalists wanting to join the campaign can cut and paste this link to enable them sign the FOTOS-Gh/PSA petition here: https://www.change.org/p/ghana-fair-trade-oil-share-psa-campaign-ftos-gh-psa).
The question is: Why are our educated urban elites not looking at renegotiating the unfair and obnoxious oil agreements signed by our leaders since oil in commercial quantities was discovered off our shores? Will newly signed production-sharing agreements - in replacement of the existing one-sided agreements - not provide the additional revenues needed to fund free education from kindergarten to tertiary level, as well as give access to affordable, well-designed and well-built housing, and free world-class-quality healtcare, for all Ghanaians in need of such vital social intervention intiatives? Haaba.
Finally, in light of all the above, to inspire our younger generation's cohort of dynamic young media professionals, today, we are posting a culled Forbes.com news story by Tim Worstall, which illustrates perfectly, what bold African leaders who actually care about their nations' well-being, and seek the welfare of their citizens, do, when confronted with evidence of egregious rip-offs detrimental to their people, engaged in by foreign oil companies. If even our relatively poorer sister nation Chad's leaders can be so brave, when they discover clear evidence of powerful oil companies' chicanery, Ghana's current leaders have no excuse to continue allowing our nation to be taken for a gigantic ride by foreign oil companies - not when hard-to-find-money is desperately needed for the transformation of our motherland Ghana, in the shortest possible time-frame, practicable. Haaba. The time has come for Ghana's political leaders and media professionals to be as bold as President Nkrumah was - if the Ghana-beyond-aid is to ever materialise . Habba.
Please read on:
"Nov 16, 2016, 03:18am
Exxon's $74 Billion Fine In Chad - Unbelievable Economic Numbers Are Unbelievable
It is the economist Brad Delong who notes that we should all have some sort of general idea of economic numbers. Most especially, that we who write about the world should have some grasp of roughly what those numbers are. To the extent that Delong has been known to offer short courses and guides to us on what they roughly are. We're not talking about the details--what's the level of business investment in software sort of things. Rather, just rough ideas about how what might be reasonable. GDP changing by 20% in a year for example--unreasonable in the absence of a shooting war. Or there're some 320 million people in the US, 160 million of them work, the unemployment rate is about 5%, GDP is some $18 trillion.
The need for this is so that we can spot when something's not right. Or perhaps not important. Sure, we can say that $1 million is a lot of money. But if we say that "Americans spend $1 million on" then it's a trivial amount--Americans spend that $18 trillion each year. Or perhaps of more relevance after this election, it's fair enough to say that some 45% or so of Americans don't work but that's just not the same as 45% of Americans are unemployed.
With this rough grounding in even just orders of magnitude we can then evaluate stories as they pass us by. Like this claim about Exxon in Chad:
Exxon Mobil Corp is negotiating with Chad over a record $74 billion fine the U.S. oil company was told to pay by a court in the central African nation over unpaid royalties, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
Exxon has appealed the Oct. 5 court ruling, but the appeals court hearing has been delayed because of the talks, Bloomberg reported, citing a lawyer for Exxon.
That is not a believable number. It is the number being reported but it isn't a believable one:
Exxon Mobil Corp. is negotiating with Chad’s government about a record $74 billion fine the oil company was told to pay last month by a court in the central African nation because of a dispute over royalties.
Neither I nor Delong are assuming that you should have at your fingertips the details of the Chadian oil trade. But these things are easy enough to look up.
Oil exports are some $2.5 billion a year or so from the nation. That's all exports, not just Exxon's. The company has been exporting since 2003, and yes, the oil price used to be about twice what it is now. $74 billion is thus, around and about, roughly, the total value of all oil exported over that period of time. Do note that I don't say that this is a correct number--only that we're in about the right sort of order of magnitude here.
As reported the dispute is about whether Exxon should have been paying a 2% royalty or a 0.2% one. Who is right here we have no idea, the company says it has an agreement, the government seems to be stating that the right people didn't sign off on it.
And we've one more point, which is that according to local rules fines are twice whatever the amount in dispute is.
There is absolutely no manner at all by which we can play with these numbers to gain a fine of $74 billion. Even the method of think of a number then double it doesn't get us there. Thus the number is unbelievable--because unbelievable economic numbers are unbelievable. And that basic background that Delong urges us all to have is all we need to grasp that. If we've just some rough idea of the size of things then we can immediately reject certain propositions.
For example, one that crops up here in comments quite regularly. That Walmart makes profits of $115 billion a year. This is again one of those unbelievable numbers and yet some people really do base their consideration of the wages the company should pay upon that sum. The true number is more like $15 billion--the $115 billion is the gross profit. That's the number left over after you deduct the costs of t-shirts, shoes and so on, the cost of goods, from the revenues. Out of the $115 billion you've then got to pay the electricity, buy the trucks, build the buildings, pay the workers and so on.
Or, as I say, unbelievable economic numbers are unbelievable. Here with Chad we'll just have to wait and see where the error is. It's possible that a court there has simply invented some number. It's possible that the tale has been a little garbled in the telling. What isn't possible though is that someone is seriously trying to fine Exxon $74 billion. That's around and about the value of all of the oil under discussion over a 13 year period, not a sum that could possibly be in dispute.
It might even be true that a court is claiming that sum but they're not being serious when they do.
I'm a Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London, a writer here and there on this and that and strangely, one of the global experts on the metal scandium, one of the rare earths. An odd thing to be but someone does have to be such and in this flavour of our universe I am. ... MORE
End of culled Forbes.com article by Tim Worstall.