British High Commissioner's speech at the launch of Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth.
In 2013 a partnership was struck between the G-8 group of countries and 15 resource-rich countries, which brought Ghana and the UK together with a shared purpose of fighting poverty on the opportunities from natural resources.
The UK has committed GBP27 million to two programmes in Ghana as part of our contribution to our partnership. The programme we launch this evening, ‘Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth’ or GOGIG’ is one; the ‘Western Region Coastal Foundation’, which I had the pleasure to launch a few months ago, is the other . Even with low oil prices, there are opportunities for inclusive growth from natural resources, but even a casual look at oil-rich countries around the world – the members of OPEC for example – will tell you that just having oil is no basis for sustained, inclusive growth. And, sadly, sometimes it can be the opposite.
Compare what Norway has done with its oil to Nigeria’s experience. The arrest in London a few weeks ago of the previous Nigerian oil minister speaks volumes. Norway’s oil-based Sovereign Wealth Funds is now worth hundreds of billions of dollars, managed transparently and from which future generations of Norwegians will benefit. In Nigeria, a few individuals have been accused of stealing billions of dollars from which the only people who will benefit are future generations of their own families.
This risk of this so-called resource curse was recognised in the G8 partnership, which observed that a lack of transparency means countries often do not benefit as much as they should from their natural resources to fund development and fight poverty.
Transparency helps, but it is not much use without a well-informed civil society which is a key support to greater accountability for policy decisions, contract awards, and the use to which revenue from oil is put. Civil society is there to ask the difficult questions: who is making policy and who are they consulting in doing so? Is the government of the day openly tendering oil exploration and development contracts – or are they using opaque single source justifications to award contracts to their friends or party funders? And are those managing a country’s natural resources living a life commensurate with their official salaries – or instead amassing property and flash cars while asking for visas to send their children to expensive foreign universities?
Of course, getting the policy framework in place – with all the laws, regulations, and the necessary standard operating procedures to make everything work – is a complex and tough set of tasks for any government. And laws on their own are not enough: if they are enacted but never implemented, or flouted and ignored with impunity, they might as well have never happened.
Just as accountability is critical for good governance, it is equally vital that government is supported in its efforts to complete the policy framework, with the contributions to capacity-building it needs to do a good job on behalf of the people of Ghana.
As we have just heard, there is an all-Ghanaian GOGIG team based in Accra, all here this evening, who were described by DFID reviewers of their performance, who were here last week, as being “a fantastic team”. They have the challenging task of delivering on the objectives for GOGIG that have been set after careful consultation with the government and other stakeholders here in Ghana. Those objectives include: strengthened regulation; improved revenue capture; improved revenue management and enhanced sector oversight.
These are tough objectives but they are critical for making the most of oil and gas, and the challenge for the fantastic GOGIG team is to help Ghana achieve these objectives and ensure that oil and gas do contribution to strengthened and more inclusive growth in Ghana.
We believe that the financial resources the UK has committed to support Ghana through the work of GOGIG – on behalf of British taxpayers – constitute an investment in the future of Ghana, and in a better future for Ghana.
The return on that investment hinges on the efforts of GOGIG, but more on the clear commitment of the government to make the most of oil and gas, and on the strength of the people of Ghana in holding the government to account – to ensure that Ghana’s natural resources secure the greatest possible social and economic benefit for all its people.
I would like to close by warmly congratulating all who have worked so closely with GOGIG – from the Governance Adviser, Programme Manager and other colleagues at DFID, to the many counterparts across the government of Ghana, from His Excellency President Mahama through to the senior officials of the Ministries of Petroleum and Finance, the Petroleum Commission, the Ghana Revenue Authority, and the Bank of Ghana – many of whom are also here this evening – who have welcomed the team, made time to support and advise, and who have all in their myriad ways contributed to getting this programme to this point.
And also to thank them all for important contributions to GOGIG, and to our shared objectives for inclusive growth in Ghana.