The Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Mr Benjamin Boakye, has reiterated the need for government, civil society, and the business community to provide persons with disability with positive incentives and the right environment to participate.
He indicated that, it should be a norm to enable persons with disability to put their best foot forward. Adding that, “Whiles deliberating on the effective way of implementing local content, let us spend a bit more time to reflect on creating opportunities women and people with disability who can still play some rolls in the industry. Traditionally the oil industry has been dominated by men. Recent statistics show some improvement. Women participation has grown to about 22%, according BCG, but there is still more room for improvement.
“The oil industry ranks just behind construction industry at the bottom of league of industries with fewer women. Job satisfaction for women in the industry is also said to be low. While job satisfaction in men grows with every year they stay in the industry, that of women fall to the lowest within 3-5 years due to lack of awareness of opportunities for growth. This is not encouraging!” Mr. Boakye lamented.
He stressed that, “We should also ponder on what opportunities we can create for persons with disability. they must not be left out. This year, ACEP has empowered the visually impaired to follow and understand resource revenue governance issues in Ghana by transcribing the GHEITI report into braille.
We intend to do more to enable persons with disability to have access to industry information and participate in the making of decisions that affects them,” He assured.
Mr. Benjamin Boakye was speaking at the 4th Africa Oil Governance Summit, 2018, held in Accra at Labadi Beach Hotel from 13th to 14th November, 2018.
The Annual event sort to provide a unique platform for stakeholders in Africa’s petroleum industry and related sectors to share best practices on optimising the benefits of Africa’s oil and gas resource.
According to him, “What we have been trying to do with this gathering since 2015 is to create a forum that is not discriminatory of any class of society on the governance of the oil and gas industry. By that I mean the summit is not a gathering between civil society and government alone, or businesses and government, which is the dominant engagement often seen as far as the oil industry is concern, neither is it a social mobilisation against government and the investor community. Rather we are promoting broad engagement among governments, investors, academia, think tanks, Civil Society, affected communities, traditional leaders, people with disability and individuals who are interested in ensuring that the extraction of oil and gas resources is linked to the socio-economic development of our countries and people of this great continent.”
He went on that, the focus of last year’s summit was anchored on open contracting and how African countries could recognize it as key for improved transparency, accountability, fairness towards all investors, as well as important for the determination of optimal national take.
The summit, he said, yielded consensus on the need for transparency in the award of contracts across the value chain, including the utilisation of revenues generated from the industry by governments. He said they also got key commitments from Ghana and Nigeria, where the government of Ghana pledged to implement the open contracting provisions in the Petroleum (exploration and Production) Act.
“We are happy to report that subsequently the government passed the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) (General) regulations, 2018 to allow for the commencement of open licencing of petroleum blocks with requirement for beneficial ownership disclosure. The first promotional activity was undertaken in South Africa last week at the Africa oil week. Nigeria also promised to undertake competitive licensing rounds for its marginal fields. We have been monitoring Nigeria on progress on this commitment. We acknowledge that though the licensing round is still pending, it remains on the agenda of the Nigerian government. Across the region also, there is a renewed effort to institutionalise transparent contracting principles in the oil and gas industry. Early this month the presidents of Senegal and Sierra Leone committed to implementing Beneficial Ownership requirements in the award of petroleum blocks by 2020. We will continue to encourage other countries to follow the trend,” He revealed.
However, this year’s summit focused on local content dubbed, “Harnessing the Potential of Local Content for Economic Growth and Inclusive Development.” He said, “We note that the subject of local content is very important for resource-rich countries. The evolution of local content laws and policies across the region is a testament to a certain consensus that resource rich countries want more benefit from their natural resource wealth beyond the fiscal take. The expected benefits from local content requirements include job creation; value addition through industrial development; and local economic growth through forward, sideward and backward linkages of the extractive sector to the rest of a nation’s economy.”
The Executive Director further noted that, in spite of the prospects of local content, the right approach and effective mode of implementation hasn’t been a settled conversation. Saying there were those who believed that, local content prescriptions could be a disincentive for investment, whereas others also believe that achieving effective local content was a shared responsibility among governments, investors, industry and academia.
However, the implementation, he said, often tilts the scale of responsibility towards the government or the investor depending on the governance regime. According to him, resolving these contestation has necessitated the discussion of local content at this year’s summit.
“Fortunately, we have government representatives in the room. Investors are here, academics are here, civils society organisations are here, and development partners are here. We also have representatives of industry and other important constituencies represented amongst us. It is my hope that the two-days Africa Oil Governance Summit will provide us with the needed convergence on the effective approaches to delivering local content and sustain investment concurrently in ways that achieve pareto outcomes: making all interest groups better off without making any worse off, He reiterated.
Meanwhile, he commended their partners who had continued to provide massive support and had still remained committed even to the cause of making this year’s Summit possible. The partners were, Oxfam, Ford Foundation, the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) ,Open University (UK), Dundee University, and NORAD.
“I would also like to say “thank you” to the Ministry of Energy for the collaborative support they have provided ACEP ever since the beginning of the Africa Oil Governance Summit. We hope that our relationship with our Partners and the Ministry of Energy will be strengthened and sustained,” Mr. Ben Boakye said.