2015 Africa Oil Governance Summit Report

Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), partners and allies met in Accra from the 23rd and 24th of November 2015, to review and reflect on progress made by the country and Africa as a whole in the governance of its oil resources and to build the desired consensus on a road map to resource prosperity. The summit focused particularly on how good governance from oil wealth can be translated into development in Africa and how the continent could be assured to move away from the oil resource curse. For good governance to be achieved, participants agreed that it was paramount to pursue transparency and accountability in the oil resource sector. In ensuring transparency, it was acknowledged that some African countries have made impressive progress such as the adoption of open and competitive bidding processes for granting oil concessions. Particularly for Ghana, the government has propelled the institutionalisation of a number of processes including the setting up of the Petroleum Commission Act, the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) and the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC) amongst others. These demonstrate the strong foundation being laid to promote good governance in the oil sector in Ghana which sets an example for other African nations. However it was agreed that more could be and needed to be done in terms of promoting accountability. Participants agreed that it was time for transparency to translate into accountability. That is to ensure that the information being provided as a result of transparency does not become an end in itself but rather as ammunition to hold governments accountable for development pledges.

Participants agreed that, in achieving greater accountability it was necessary for African countries to first set a clear vision for their oil sector. That is, a vision of how the oil industry would serve as a catalyst for development of the nation. The ultimate goal of good governance within this sector should be to ensure that oil revenues translated into tangible development outcomes for citizens. Hence revenues from oil resources must be directed towards fuelling sustainable development in other sectors such as agriculture and health from which the nation will continue to reap benefits long after the depletion of oil resources. The summit also called for citizen and community involvement and participation in all stages of decision making right from the appraisal stages to deciding which type of projects should be funded from oil revenues. A remaining hindrance to civic participation however is the complex and technical language with which policies are often crafted. It was therefore necessary for policies and regulations to be translated into forms easily accessible to the average citizen. Furthermore, it is relevant to fill the skills gap in the oil industry by investing in human capital both upstream and downstream. Though the government has initiated the Graduate Upstream Sector Internship program to this effect, more needed to be done in building local human capacity for the entire value chain from managerial positions to artisan and technical roles. Also these skills should be transferable beyond the oil sector to other industries such as agribusiness.

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