The first annual Africa Oil Governance Summit to evaluate progress made, build consensus on a road map for Africa’s resource prosperity and identify best practices in oil governance for adoption by other African countries, ended in Accra.
The two-day conference took place on the theme: “Africa Rising as Oil Curse Beckons for Most Countries–Is Good Governance the Missing Link between Wealth and Development?”
The conference provided a platform for relevant stakeholders– Government, Oil Companies and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Mozambique, the United Kingdom, Denmark and the United States of America– to discuss and develop consensus on key governance policies for the efficient and transparent management of Africa’s oil wealth for positive development outcomes.
In all, 200 participants, drawn from Government Ministries, Industry Regulators, Accountability Institutions, National Oil and Gas Companies, Heads of Missions of African Embassies in Ghana, International Oil Companies, CSOs, Traditional Authorities, Development Partners and International Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), attended the conference.
It was organized by the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), an Energy Policy Think-Tank, in collaboration with the Ministry of Petroleum, with financial support from the Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth (GOGIG), UK Aid, German Development Co-operation (GIZ), Oxfam America and Ibis Ghana.
In a welcome address, the Executive Director of ACEP, Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, urged participants to accelerate efforts at addressing outstanding and emerging challenges that could threaten Africa’s resolve to effectively manage its oil resources and to work towards developing a comprehensive programme for Africa’s march to economic revival and democratic development.
Dr Adam noted that even though a few African governments blessed with oil and gas wealth had made impressive efforts at adopting best practices for the governance of their oil and gas resources, serious governance challenges were prevalent in most of Africa’s oil and gas provinces which were dwarfing the transformative potential of oil and deepening the view that oil curse was an African curse.
He expressed regrets that that African continent was in a fruitless search for development resources while so much of its resources at home were being squandered away through bad resource contracts. “In spite of the potential for resource contracts to generate broad-based democratic development, the most important challenge confronting African resource-rich countries is their ability to negotiate and sign good deals”, Dr Adam observed.
Dr Adam urged African governments to build a transparent regime for licensing resource contracts, adopt practices such as open and competitive bidding processes for concessions, mandatory disclosure of resource contracts, disclosure of beneficial ownership information and the provision of anti-corruption clauses in resource contracts to criminalize companies found to have engaged in the bribery of public officials and political parties during the licensing period.
He said revenue leakages and illicit financial flows, costing Africa US$38.4 annually, ought to be halted with an efficient tax administration, including proper auditing capacity to audit private firms and state-owned oil and mining companies.
Furthermore, he said, African governments should promote new reporting requirements and strong implementing regulations in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Open Contracting Partnership (OCP), the European Union Transparency Law, US Dodd Frank Reforms Act and the African Mining Vision.
The new reporting requirements, Dr Adam said, could include fiscal benchmarking, demand for the compliance record of oil companies, level of technical competence and their sources of financing, the subsidiaries of oil companies and their beneficial owners.
In a key note address at the opening of the conference, the Minister for Petroleum, Mr Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, urged Africa to increase the necessary networks for collaboration as a prerequisite for good governance in the management of the continent’s oil and gas resources.
Mr Buah pledged the commitment of government to partnering with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the governance of Ghana’s oil and gas industry.