Government has been charged to as a matter of urgency address issues of under-development in communities where mining, as well as oil and gas activities, are taking place.
This, according to the External Affairs Director of Vodafone, Gayheart Mensah, is critical in ensuring that residents are not unduly deprived of the economic benefits of the natural resources.
Although oil has yielded over $3 billion since production begun about 5 years ago, industry watchers are worried the economic impact leaves much to be desired.
Mr Mensah is one of those who believe more needs to done to address the situation.
He was speaking with JOY BUSINESS at a graduation ceremony for some journalists and industry players after a six-month training programme in oil and gas organized by the centre and sponsored by Oxfam.
In all, 22 out of 25 media practitioners and other participants were awarded certificates.
Mr Mensah noted that paying attention to the infrastructure issues of such communities will be of immense benefit to the entire country as well as well as the oil and gas industry.
“The extension in road networks have not been commensurate with the expansion of activities in the oil and gas sector and all stakeholders should help in resolving this," he noted.
He lauded the Centre for following through with the initiative and challenged other institutions to support in the capacity building drive.
The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) Media Fellowship in Oil and Gas is a programme aimed at empowering media practitioners in the country to understand oil and gas policies and the operations of oil companies.
This is to enable practitioners properly report and disseminate information to the world about the industry.
Speaking at the ceremony, Executive Director of ACEP, Dr Mohammed Amin Adam called on media practitioners to regularly undertake investigations in the industry to enhance good governance.
“The media must help bring data in the industry which are usually so complex and technical to the understanding of the people, but as we know, this cannot be done without the media personnel themselves well trained to do this. This is why ACEP in partnership with our partner Oxfam initiated the programme," he said.
He believes that the training is important because the media is an important bridge between policy makers and the citizens.
Deputy Executive Director of ACEP Ben Boakye said the media has a vital role to play in ensuring the country derives the maximum benefit from this resource.
Oil, he reiterated can become a blessing or a curse to nations that have them depending on its management. Monitoring the governance space to ensure transparency and accountability in the area of contracts awarded as well as beneficial ownership, he added.
Dr Adam questioned “the revenues that are coming in, how are we managing it? What goes into the selection of projects in the sector and how are they being funded? Do citizens have the opportunity to even make input into the projects?”
"All these are issues that need to be interrogated and that’s why we thought that if we can train journalists, dissemination of information and sharing of capacity could be accelerated to help bridge the capacity gap in the media," he said.
Consular at the Norwegian Embassy challenged Ghana to draw useful lessons from Norway’s Oil for Development Programme which has been in operation for over 4 decades to enable it to derive the benefits from the sector.
The programme according to him provides a lot of information on oil exploration, development, production, revenue sharing, taxation, among others related to the oil and gas sector developed in the North Sea Basin of the country which the country can tap into for desired benefits.
Oxfam Country Director, Sebastian Tia pledged support for future programmes saying it is highly critical for capacity building.
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