Concerns are being voiced about how Ghana will manage its
oil revenues as the Jubilee field, its first major offshore
deposit, prepares to start producing and exporting in the
fourth quarter of this year.
Bright Simons, director of development research at IMANI, an
Accra-based public policy thinktank, said in an interview:
We are as concerned with financial prudence, and the
management of the proceeds from the resource, as we are about
London-based Tullow Oil, the operator at Jubilee, expects
initial output to be 120,000 barrels a day. With reserves of
800 million barrels of high-quality oil and potential for at
least 1 billion more, the Jubilee field could make Ghana the
fifth largest oil nation in sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria,
Angola, Sudan and Gabon.
The government is confident that crude exports will boost
annual GDP growth to as much as 10% in the next few years. And
the IMF predicts that if Ghana uses the windfall wisely, it
could reach the status of a middle-income country within a
But critics say that the regulatory framework is being put
in place too slowly, and that the process is too opaque.
Economists and campaign groups alike warn that if the
governments expressions of good intention are not turned
into action, the country could be vulnerable to the resource
The government says it will comply with the Extractive
Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), that oil revenues
will be monitored via an account at the central bank. It
intends to set up a heritage fund to capture surplus revenues,
which should be managed by investment advisors. The finance
ministry said earlier this year that both accounts will have
clear deposit and withdrawal rules.
The government also plans to put regulatory responsibility
for upstream activities in the hands of a National Petroleum
Authority, and turn the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation
(GNPC) into a strictly commercial entity.
But Ben Amunwa of Platform, the London-based NGO that
monitors the international oil industry, said that the
government is moving too slowly. They have a great deal
of work to do, given that the first oil will begin to flow from
December this year.
The revenue management bill has not yet been
published and that is an absolute necessity. Any policy that is
going to have a democratic basis needs to be debated
On managing funds accruing from the windfall, Simons at
IMANI urged the government to take more steps to prove its
commitment to accountability. The management of pension funds
by parastatals has cast serious doubts on state-led efforts
towards financial prudence, he argues.