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There are good opportunities in oil sector, pursue them – Energy Economist encourages Kufuor Scholars

Energy economist Dr. Ishmael Ackah says there are good opportunities in oil sector for young people. Speaking during a virtual interaction with members of the Kufuor Scholars Program (KSP), he urged them to pursue opportunities within oil and gas companies and seek internships and national service postings there. The session was on the theme: “Africa and Ghana’s oil: a resource curse or blessing.”

He explained Ghana has a number of oil fields including the TEN, Sankofa and the Central Basin fields. He explains government has about 10% stake in the oil fields which can be increased upon request. Government is also entitled to about 35% of the revenue of oil companies in taxes.

Giving the background of efforts to ensure Ghana gains maximum benefits from the sector, Dr. Ackah explained Parliament passed the Petroleum Management Act when Ghana first struck oil to govern how resources should be used. Surveys were conducted to ask people about their opinions on how the oil sector should be managed. A lot of students were sent abroad to acquire knowledge on the oil industry. But a lot of them studied management courses, rather than key areas like engineering. The country is more focused on awarding scholarships for students to pursue studies in other aspects of the sector which has huge expatriate staff so Ghanaians can take up that space, including engineering.

The energy economist said generally, Africa is doing better than before when it comes to how oil resources are managed. Countries like Ghana and Botswana are among the top 20 nations in the world in terms of good natural resource governance.

He however expressed concern Africa has been very poor at negotiating better deals for the oil due to a number of reasons including poor data availability.

Dr. Ackah said Ghana has established the Stabilization Fund into which some of the oil resources are invested to be used in cushioning the economy in difficult times. The Heritage Fund has also been established.

He said oil is neither a blessing nor a curse, and that mainly depends on how the sector is managed. In order to make it a blessing, he said there was the need to have adequate data on the sector, implement various laws and policies, create a linkage between oil and gas industry and other industries, and ensure stronger collaboration between stakeholders.

He however expressed concern about the huge dependence on oil resources for the running of the economy, noting, when oil price goes up, GDP also goes up and when oil prices go down, the reverse happens.

Dr. Ackah said Ghana has been making efforts at increasing transparency and accountability in the sector through the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), which monitors expenditure of revenues from oil. He called for more transparency and public accountability in the oil sector.

The scholars expressed gratitude to Dr. Ackah for the talk, noting they had learnt a lot from it.