Ghana Ready For the Upcoming Oil Boom

The traditional wisdom in African proverbs is beyond compare. Listen to this common one If you see your neighbor's beard in flame, you must quickly run and fetch water near your own.

Ghana is a blessed country in the true sense of the word! Ghana is a very fortunate nation not only in Africa but on the entire planet Earth. In fact, nature is so kind to Ghana that everyday the benevolence and the benediction of the Divine Intelligence are always pouring on her like showers from the heavens. The whole of Ghana is like the Garden of Eden. Delicious fruits, magnificent flowers, beautiful birds, singing melodious tunes in praise of the Creator from dawn to dusk non-stop. It is a land of queens and kings majestically dancing in palanquins from January to December. Ao! Ghana is a country every human being must visit at least once in one's life!

The only sad thing about Ghana is that, some times, Ghanaians themselves do not seem to appreciate these blessings, let alone place any premium on them. Otherwise, how on earth will any citizen of Ghana dream of walking from Africa through the Sahara desert en route to Europe Another African proverb admonishes us When the treasure is in the sitting room, you don't need to go to the bedroom looking for it there.

Ghana is also a very smart country in Africa indeed! In June 2007, when Ghana was at the zenith of her Golden Jubilee Celebrations, God sent his angel to bring a special message to the people of Ghana. That message was simple. The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and its partners including Kosmos Energy of the US and Tullow Oil of the UK broke the news of the discovery of oil in commercial quantities in the offshore TanWest Cape Three Points Basin in the Western Region of our beloved country.


From the day the oil discovery message was delivered to the number one citizen of the land, in the person of President J.A.Kufuor at the Castle, Osu in Accra, the Government and people of Ghana have never gone to bed to sleep. In other words, Ghanaians are not sitting on the fence with their arms in their laps with their mouths gaped towards the blue skies waiting for the honey to drip onto their tongues. (Kpaooo! Daaabida! Waalaaii)!

Ghana Government has ever since embarked on some public education strategies such as campaigns, seminars, fora, symposia, newspaper adverts etc. to alert the citizenry about the discovery of oil and what Government was doing and what was expected of every citizen so that the oil find becomes a blessing and not a curse as is the case in some neigbouring countries in the West Africa sub-region.

In fact a high-powered ministerial committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Advisor to the President at the office of the President was set up to supervise the activities of the oil exploration in the country. Other ministries of that committee include Finance and Economic Planning, Local Government, Rural Development & Environment, Defense, Attorney General's Department, Fisheries and Harbours and Railways. Besides this committee which is advisory in nature, there is also a technical committee made up of experts from various sectors of the economy including GNPC, Environmental Protection Agency, and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Institute, the Ghana Navy, the Internal Revenue Service and so on.

The first major event Government embarked upon in this regard was what was dubbed, the broad-based consultative initiative on Ghana's oil and gas industry forum. This maiden forum was officially opened by President Kufuor at the Ghana Institute of Public Administration (GIMPA) on Monday, February 25, 2008, Accra.

Conscious of the fact that Ghana is novice in oil and gas industry, experts were invited from all over the world including Mr Erik Solheim, Minister for Environment and International Development from Norway, to share their experiences with Ghana. A Ghanaian proverb says, Wisdom is like a baobab tree, one person cannot embrace it. And another famous Adinkra symbol of Ghana places value on knowledge so much so that it says A person who does not know can learn to know.  As a matter of fact, the African University College of Communications, (AUCC) founded by a very simple and humble but wise son of Ghana, in the person of Mr Kojo Yankah has adopted the above-stated symbols as the emblem of the AUCC.

On Saturday, 19th July 2008, this writer happened to have witnessed the graduation ceremony of that University at their new City Campus at Adabaraka in the heart of Accra. And I bet you, reader, besides the founder of that University, the original African brains with unadulterated African wisdom behind it, you don't need to be an astrologer like the three wise men of the Christian Bible from the East, to see the star and foretell that an African saviour has been born in Ghana, (not in Israel) to deliver Africans from a mental slavery. The Creator made sure that everything needed to develop scientifically and technologically is right here in Ghana and Africa. (Sorry for the digression.)

As I was saying, since the announcement of oil discovery in Ghana, Government has not been sitting down for manna to fall from heaven for Ghanaians. At the first oil and gas forum, it came to light that petroleum exploration activities actually started as far back as in the 1890s in the Half Assini area in the same Western Region of Ghana. Records show that there was a small production in the offshore Half Assini area just at the beginning of the World War II. Then in the early 1970s, during the Busia regime, the Saltpond field was also discovered but did not prove commercial enough. In spite of this, it was not abandoned and it is currently producing 600 barrels of oil per day. This was President Kufuor speaking at that oil and gas forum at GIMPA.

After that forum, the Oil and Gas Ministerial and Technical Committees had embarked on nation-wide tours where similar workshops were held in all the ten regions of Ghana, collating and collecting people's views and opinions as to how Ghana must manage the oil in order to make life prosperous for every Ghanaian citizen regardless of socio-economic, political and cultural status and geographical locations.

I remember vividly that at one of the fora held at Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region or so, someone was reported to have suggested that a special Oil Fund should be established for the welfare of the indigenous people on whose land the oil was discovered. That a special package must be prepared for them; their children and children's children so that their eyes shall see poverty but their feet shall never step in the land of the poor souls for ever and ever. (Do I hear somebody say Amen ) This strategy of listening to ordinary down trodden views to be embodied in a National Oil and Gas Policy for Ghana is commendable to say the least. This explains why this writer thinks that Ghana is a very smart country. This gesture on the part of Government is one of the fruits of democracy and good governance. Wo mpe woyiaa, wope den To wit - if you don't like this, what do you want - Common Ghanaian idiom!

Frankly, what actually motivated this author to write this piece was the fact that, besides those official workshops and seminars, which Ghanaians adore and enjoy to the brim, the Management of the Ghana Petroleum Corporation has been serialising a very comprehensive and educative document in the national dailies, namely, the Daily Graphic and the Ghanaian Times for some time now. I find these pull-outs on the oil industry titled THE UPSTREAM PETROLEUM INDUSTRY IN GHANA - Oil and Gas Exploration, Development and Production, very, very, timely and fantastic indeed!

With this educational material, anybody, especially a journalist or media practitioner who is desirous of writing about the oil and gas industry can educate himself or herself so as to communicate intelligibly about this highly scientific and technological sector of the economy. For instance, it is through this document that this writer got to know the basic difference between Upstream and Downstream Petroleum Industries. Upstream Petroleum Industry simply involves the Exploration, Development and Production of petroleum resources whilst when you talk of Downstream, you are referring to the refiningprocessing and distribution of petroleum products. All of these measures are indicative of Ghana's readiness for the forthcoming oil boom in the country.