The Deputy Minister of Energy in charge of Petroleum, Dr Mohammed Amin Adams has reiterated Ghana’s commitment to good governance and transparency, saying the country will ensure equitable growth to avoid the proverbial resource curse and mistrust among the citizenry.
He says Ghana is the second country in Africa to adopt contract transparency in the management of its oil and gas resources, in furtherance of conscious efforts required to achieve industrial peace and harmony.
According to Amin Adams, central to the successful management of natural resources is the ability of managers to handle risk, which he said could be a major setback for progress if the oil industry and oil nations become averse to the reality and values of transparency and governance.
Speaking on the topic, Governance, Transparency and Equitable Growth at the Africa Oil Week fair in Cape Town, South Africa, Dr Amin said good governance is critical not only to national governments but also for companies seeking legitimacy and the trust of the people.
“Some governance issues that have bothered citizens of resource rich countries no doubt, boarder on transparency with regard to revenue, contracts, and methods of awards of the contract – either it is open and competitive or administrative in allocating the rights in consultation with the citizenry,” he said.
The deputy minister said in ensuring good governance practices, there is the need to ensure citizens are involved in key decisions such as allocation and investment of revenue from the oil resource.
He said it is important not to let a lack of transparency bother the citizenry as it is a recipe for no consensus between governments/citizens on one hand and companies on the other.
Dr Amin said it is interesting to note that some international oil companies are unenthusiastic about these issues of governance, transparency and equitable growth, but which are of so much value to their own long-term safe and harmonious operations.
“Therefore it’s important for us to strike a balance on how governance can become valuable not just to government/citizens but also to companies”, he stressed.
The deputy minister said the adoption of true governance principles that ensure transparency will stem the incidence of violent attacks on companies in some oil producing countries in Africa, a situation he said is largely fanned by mistrust.
“The attacks are as a result of the fact that the citizens believe that they are not getting the benefits from the exploitation of the resource. The truth is that good governance can inject trust, reduce tension and ensure companies operate in harmony devoid of social acrimony,” he said.
He said in the past the focus was largely on the economic prescriptions with no attention paid to the social and political economy, “that is why we have conflicts in many parts of the world where the resources which are supposed to be a blessing to the people turn to spew curse.”
Dr Amin pointed out that another area Ghana had made tremendous progress was the disclosure of beneficiary ownership which many players consider commercially sensitive, saying that “once a petroleum agreement provides for confidentiality, including the confidentiality of beneficiary ownership information, it creates more risk for them.”
Ghana, he said, in its quest to ensure transparency, adopted a requirement for the disclosure of the beneficiary ownership information in its regulations. “I must say that for us in Ghana, democracy and transparency are so important to us in building trust between government of the day and its citizenry.
He deplored the emerging trend where new oil nations and growing companies are opening up and are being more accountable while mature nations and oil companies are rather evasive, a situation he said was not good for governance, transparency and equitable growth hence a recipe for disaster.
Co-panellist, Sophia Durham, Senior Advisor in charge of External Affairs and Social Performance of Kosmos Energy, outlined what her outfit is doing to enhance governance, transparency and equitable growth in countries it operates in, including Ghana.