extractive sector
An open pit mine in the town of Prestea, where Oxfam parter organization in Ghana, WACAM has been supporting the Concerned Citizens Association of Prestea in its efforts to negotiate with a mining company around issues related to air and water pollution, and the proposed expansion of mining operations.

African leaders are quick to ratify international transparency provisions for the extractive industry but are shy to implement them, civil society players attending the Third African Oil Governance Summit told Xinhua here on Monday.

Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, Member of the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI), pointed out that the fact that Africa was still thinking about, rather than acting on the African Mining Vision as a way of addressing poverty and ensuring the continent had socio-economic development and environmental sanitation based on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) showed that leaders of the continent were not on top of issues.

“The real problem is that, yes, Africa can go and ratify protocols; governments can sign documents, and leave it hanging for many years. We did this African Mining Vision in 2009; we did the ECOWAS Directive on harmonizing policies in the mining sector in 2009.
“We had timelines to ensure that we implement these and develop policies at the country level and make sure that we have some reliefs. We ate still talking about something that was signed about eight years ago,” Owusu-Koranteng who is also a Co- Executive Director of WACAM, a Ghana-based responsible mining advocacy group, pointed out.

The way forward, she said, was for transparency to prevail, not as political leaders defined it in their giving information to the people, maintaining that transparency should be about participating in every sector, and structure of decision making processes – from the decision to mine or not to mine, and land closure.

“Before you sign contracts, people should know what we are signing for because we maximize benefits based on what we fix in the contract. So when you have contracts that say companies could retain a lot of the sales in offshore accounts and will not bring anything for national development definitely we are not going to develop,“ she highlighted.

Emmanuel Kuyole, Executive Director of the Center for Extractives and Development Africa (CEDA), took issues with the government of Ghana for engaging American exploration firm, Exxon-Mobil, on Direct Negotiation after the passage of the new Petroleum Exploration and Production Act (PEPA) in 2016 which provides for Open and Competitive Bidding in awarding oil blocks.

Kuyole argued that the reason outlined by government for going on direct negotiations with Exxon-Mobil could be given for going on direct negotiations on any particular block in this country, stressing that it was not good enough.

“That is where Africans now have to focus. That it is not enough to ask the government to put in place the right policies and the right laws, but that there is the will to implement what is actually in the law and not find different ways and legal ways to bypass the processes that have been put in place,” he urged.

In spite of the misgivings by civil society about government’s attitude to contracting in the petroleum sector, Deputy Minister for Energy, Ghana, Mohammed Amin Adams, reiterated Ghana’s resolve to ensure transparency in its oil sector.

The law, according to him, provides for open and competitive bidding as well as for direct negotiation, if in consultation with Petroleum Commission it is established that direct negotiation gives the country optimal and efficient exploitation of the resource.
“But it is not every company which will have opportunity to have direct negotiations, and ultimately our preference is for open and competitive bidding, but we are developing regulations to commence the application of that section of the law.” Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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