Ghana Takes Strides to Localize its Petroleum Industry

John Atta Mills, former president of Ghana, turns on a valve at the Jubilee offshore oil fields.

John Atta Mills, former president of Ghana, turns on a valve at the Jubilee offshore oil fields.

The discovery of vast oil reserves in Ghana in 2007 and the beginning of commercial production by Tullow Oil in 2010 have provided a significant boost to the nation’s economy and opened up a host of new opportunities for both domestic growth and foreign investment.

 

Floating storage production storage vessel the Kwame Nkrumah

A Tullow oil rig in the offshore Jubilee oil field.

 

Many have posited that Ghana is better-positioned than other oil-wealthy nations to manage their petroleum resources well because they do not rely on oil exclusively for national income. The newly discovered oil reserves are significant, but the revenue they generated still only represented 6% of GDP in 2010, as Ghana also earns significant portions of GDP from gold and cocoa production.

There is a potential for thousands of new jobs within the industry, but previously, many had gone to foreigners. To remedy this, the Petroleum Regulation on Local Content and Participation was entered into force on February 1st, 2014.  Under this new legislation, Ghanaian companies must have a 5% stake or higher in every contract with foreign investors, and Ghanaian businesses are given priority in applications for petroleum licenses. Foreign investors will also need to use predominantly local resources and services for all of their operations. The legislation also includes provisions requiring companies to invest in research and programs to facilitate technology transfer and foster greater local capacity for industrial development.      The country experienced an unprecedented 13.4% growth rate in 2011, but greater local participation in the industry would mean that this growth directly impacts more Ghanaian citizens rather than foreign investors. This bill is the first step in a long-range program to transition to predominantly local participation in and administration of the industry, with an ultimate goal of 90% Ghanaian participation by 2020.

 

A man fill a truck with diesel fuel at a gas station in Accra, Ghana

 

However, in order for this to be a smooth and successful transition, comprehensive capacity-building and human resource development strategies must also be initiated, as local industry expertise remains in short supply. Currently, many Ghanaian firms related to different stages in the petroleum production industry are small, and most of them tend to specialize in on-shore services. A few capacity-building plans that have been suggested are for international contractors to subcontract more tasks to local firms, and for small, highly specialized firms to join forces to be able to take on larger jobs.

Potential problems include government corruption, appropriation of resources for sale on the black market, and several negative impacts on fisheries–from pollution at drilling sites, sound pollution that drives fish away, and a danger to fishermen when nets or boats are pulled under near drills. However, steps are being taken to address these issues at both the grassroots and the governmental levels, and Ghana is optimistic that this localization of the petroleum industry will translate into an economic boost that will have a positive impact on many in the country.

 

 

Tourism Sector in Namibia is Up and Growing

 

The increasing amount of tourism in Africa has had especially strong effects in Nigeria, which has the fastest growing tourism center in not only the continent, but the world. Leaders are seeking to foster this growth as they meet this week at the country’s first tourism planning meeting. The meeting’s purpose is to enhance the tourism sector and improve its spread across the country. Currently, the industry provides 22% of the jobs in the country, and leaders believe that, with careful expansion, it can provide even more.

Namibia has long attracted tourists not only due to its rich natural beauty, but also its strong cultural appeal. The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Uahekua Herunga, heralded the Olufuko Festival in the North as a great draw four tourists.

As the tourism industry develops, however, the National Tourism Department works hard to ensure that the environment is protected. Namibia has long been developing “responsible tourism” as a way to attract tourists while still preserving the country’s natural attractions, which in turn draw more tourists.

For more read:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201404150775.html

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/28/travel/namibia-black-rhino/

Image from:

Readjusting the Mozambican Penal Code

Mozambique has recently redrafted its penal code to remove offensive articles that remained from the original Portuguese code written in 1886.  Although the code had been in force for the past 128 years, the articles, including one which allows men to avoid prosecution for rape upon marrying their victim, have not been enforced by the Mozambican government.  However, rather than continuing to ignore parts of the outdated penal code, Mozambique has opted for the first full overhaul to modernize and update the official code.

The move to redraft the Penal Code and remove the offences against women’s rights has been due, in large part, to the efforts of Amnesty International. There are now new articles specifically concerning women’s rights, domestic abuse, definitions of rape, and psychological violence.  In addition, all references to the illegality of homosexuality have been eliminated.  However, there has been ongoing disagreement concerning the age of responsibility, which is now set at the age of 10. Many are advocating for the age to be raised to at least 16, but as of now, this has not been changed.

 

Original Article: http://allafrica.com/stories/201404080228.html?viewall=1

Image Source: http://www.english.rfi.fr/sites/english.filesrfi/dynimagecache/0/0/432/323/344/257/sites/images.rfi.fr/files/aef_image/justice_0_0.jpg

Nigeria Now Has Africa’s Largest Economy

Revised GDP reports for Nigeria’s economy in 2013 reveal that the country has surpassed South Africa as the African continent’s largest economy. The original estimate of 42.4 trillion naira has now been adjusted to 80.2 trillion naira, allowing Nigeria to “leapfrog” South Africa’s economy and ascend to 24th on the global list of economies.  The primary factor of Nigeria’s GDP ascension has been the growth of the telecom industry; the increase of mobile technology and cell phone usage made this particular industry responsible for a quarter of the rise in GDP.  Other contributing industries include manufacturing and even film making industries. The new figures also reveal that the oil and gas industry, once thought to be the dominant resource of the Nigerian economy, has halved its percentage of GDP.  According to The Economist, “Nigeria now looks like an economy to take seriously.”

Image

Source: http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21600734-revised-figures-show-nigeria-africas-largest-economy-step-change?zid=304&ah=e5690753dc78ce91909083042ad12e30

US Embassy Pushes Gender Equality in Benin

Benin_Women

On April 10, 2014, over 50 men and women convened to discuss women and power in the workplace. The event was organized by both the American Cultural Center and the Association for Professional Integration as a follow up to last month’s discussion on the notable book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” written by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. The lively debate was attended by students, teachers, and professionals from a variety of other fields, including NGOs, public administration, and the private sector. The Deputy Chief of Mission in Cotonou, Benin–Todd Whatley–remarked on the United States’ commitment to promoting gender equality worldwide by stating that “Advancing the rights of women does not just benefit women. Research shows that progress in women’s employment, health, and education leads to greater economic growth and more cohesive communities.”

Further reading:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201404101670.html

Image sources:

http://www.painetworks.com/previews/hn/hn2086.html

http://womenalliance.org/birth-registration

Mozambican Water Solutions

Mozambican President Armando Guebeza has inaugurated the Sampene Water Distribution Centre in the province of Zambezia as a new piece in the water supply system for Quelimane, Zambezia’s capital.  The Centre is both a reservoir and a pumping station with the capacity to hold up to 2,500 cubic metres of water.

Funding for the Centre was provided through a joint effort between the World Bank and the Mozambican government, costing approximately $2.1 million dollars.  The construction project created 100 new jobs.

 

Original Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201404090476.html

Image source: http://www.dlr.de/blogs/en/Portaldata/66/Resources/energie/Ottenstein_600.jpg

Faster Cargo Clearance Has a Positive Impact on Benin Economy

Benin Port

The average clearing time for cargo in Benin is highly reduced, leading to a boost in the transport of goods via ports. Nigeria, a neighboring country, stands to lose business at its ports due to the long clearing time of 14 to 21 days. In Cotonou, Benin, the cargo clearing process averages seven days. The faster process proves to be more cost-effective, which thereby stimulates the growth of the port industry, as well as accumulate revenue for the government. General manager of the RORO Terminal in Benin states that it takes an average of seven days to clear a container, and 24 hours to clear a vehicle. Their goal is to eventually minimize the cargo dwell time to 24 hours so that importers may retrieve their containers as soon as the ships dock.

Cargo clearance in Cotonou port has become faster due to governmental port reform that was initiated in 2011. Since the reform established a single online clearing platform called SEGUB, there is less vessel waiting time, free flow of traffic in the port access roads, and an increased volume of cargo in the port.

Further Reading: http://businessdayonline.com/2014/02/importers-move-to-ghana-benin-ports-as-slow-processes-in-nigeria-hurt-business/#.UyCV-vldXTo

Image Source: http://www.dredgingtoday.com/2013/02/07/benin-afgen-inks-agreement-with-dredging-international/

Mozambique Ratifies Nagoyo Protocol

Image

Mozambique has recently ratified the Nagoyo Protocol, a protocol concerning access to and sharing of genetic resources and information.  The protocol addresses the legal framework surrounding the complicated issue of genetic resources and is intended to serve as a transparency boost for the already existing United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The language of the protocol focuses on equitable sharing of information and resources, and addresses issues such as indigenous and local communities granting access to genetic resources, as well as traditional knowledge associated with genetic information and materials.

Mozambique will be the thirtieth nation to ratify the Nagoyo Protocol, but fifty nations are needed before it can enter into force.  Notably absent from the list of ratified countries is the United States, a key player in the field of genetics.

The Nagoyo Protocol also aims to promote conservation and environmentalist efforts, increasing the amount of land per nation promised to be made into protected regions. The attempt towards stronger conservation policies and protection of biodiversity is supported by the Mozambique Government, which recognizes the importance of biodiversity and genetic resources.

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201403140038.html

Image: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/files/2013/05/Mozambique_2012_3786.jpg

Ghana Celebrates its 57th Birthday

Fifty-seven years ago today, on March 6th, 1957, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to gain independence from colonial rule. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, later hailed as “Osagyefo,” or “redeemer” in the Ghanaian Akan language, was released from a jail term for anti-colonial civil disobedience to accept his election to form a new government in February of 1951. He became prime minister of the new government the following March, and five years later in 1957, he declared Ghana’s independence from the United Kingdom.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

Dr. Kwame Nrumah with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Accra, Ghana

Ghana has made great strides as a nation in the fifty-seven years since ’57.  Business and industry are on the rise, driven by Ghana’s growing dynamic community of entrepreneurs, including partnerships such as the Ghana Association of Women Entrepreneurs (GAWE), as well as programs like Ghana’s Next Young Entrepreneur (GYNE) which promote entrepreneurship in the new generation.

 

Makola Market in Accra, Ghana

Ghana has also made significant progress toward the Millenium Development Goal of eradicating poverty and hunger, becoming the first African nation to cut the number of people living in extreme poverty almost in half in 2006. Ghana has been hailed as one of Africa’s “shining stars of democracy.” Much progress has been made in the country in terms of human rights, as demonstrated by the strong and vibrant civil society that has grown steadily over the years, addressing social issues ranging from education to women’s rights to rural poverty.

Although the nation still has many challenges to overcome, they have come far and made impressive strides in  economic, democratic, and social development since gaining independence in 1957. Happy Ghanaian Independence Day!

140225001447-ghana-flag-celebration-story-top