Penplusbytes trains Liberian journalists

BY: Arku Jasmine

Journalists have been called upon to critically play their watchdog role in the oil and gas sector to ensure that the people benefitted from the revenue and resources in that sector.
The US Ambassador to Liberia, Ms Deborah R. Malac, who made the call, noted that “incomplete or inaccurate reporting of developments in these sensitive sectors can sometimes inadvertently inflame tensions and complicate the process of reaching consensus.”

She made the call at the opening of a seven-day workshop on “Empowering the Media to Play an Active Watchdog Role over Mining Oil and Gas Revenue and Resources,” for Liberian journalists in Accra.

The workshop, organised by International Institute for ICT Journalism (Penplusbytes), in association with the National Black Programming Consortium with funding from Humanity United, is to build the competencies of the participants to better report on the sector.

Top mining, oil and gas experts, including Vulate J. Hage, Assistant Professor of Law - University of Liberia, Mohammed Amin Adam, Director  Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Senior Senator Cletus Wotorson Chair - Joint Committee on Oil and Energy Senate of Liberia, Karl Cottrell,  Country Manager, Chevron Liberia,  Maureen Sieh of IREX, among others, would be providing insights during this learning opportunity.

Ms Malac said revenues from the oil, gas, and mineral sectors were notoriously difficult for governments to manage effectively.

She, therefore, urged the media to focus on the extractive industry to promote transparency.

The President of Penplusbytes, Kwami Ahiabenu II, in his opening remarks said, “the workshop is designed to introduce practicing journalists to key issues surrounding oil, gas and mining, thereby helping them to develop the knowledge and skills to stimulate and feed public debate on how best to ensure that proceeds are used in the interest of their country and its citizens.”

Mr Ahiabenu added that “our organisation started working in the extractive sector in 2007, with the discovery of oil in Ghana and, since 2010, we have been working with the Revenue Watch Institute to expand our work to Uganda and Tanzania. We can count Nigeria, Cameroun and Cote d’Ivoire as some of our key countries of experience in the oil and gas sector, and we are excited today to add Liberia to our countries of focus.”

Daily Graphic/Ghana