The Government must work towards refining Ghana’s crude oil into finished products for export to reap the requisite revenue for prospering the economy.
“Processing can help integrate the whole oil and gas sector into the economy in a more robust manner so that we can maximise our benefits,” Mr Kwami Ahiabenu II, the Executive Director of Penplusbytes, has said.
Addressing journalists attending the sixth edition of the Regional Media Training on Mining, Oil and Gas in Accra, Mr Ahiabenu said value addiction to Ghana’s crude could enable the country to export refined products to landlocked countries such as Burkina Faso.
He urged the media to push for oil refinery in Ghana through their various publications and broadcasts their reportage whilst making the authorities know the benefit in value addiction.
The 24 media practitioners attending the 12-day capacity building programme were selected from media houses in Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania.
Penplusbytes, a not-for-profit media oriented organization, in partnership with the Natural Resource Governance Institute, are organising the workshop under the project, “Empowering the Media to Play Active Watchdog Role over Mining, Oil and Gas Revenue and Resources for journalists.
The purpose of the project is to equip the participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to better inform the public and CSOs on issues of Oil, Gas and Mining with the ultimate aim of holding public officials accountable.
They are also to play an active watchdog role over the extractive sector revenues and resources.
Mr Ahiabenu said Ghanaian journalists ought to build their capacities to be able to simplify the budget where Ghana’s oil money is usually allocated to for them to tell the public how and where the State is spending the oil money.
“As journalists, especially, we are obligated to follow the money to ensure that revenue from this resource is accountable for, to the very last pesewa. It is our solemn responsibility of which we must take seriously,” he explained.
He said under the media training project which started five years ago, over 100 journalists from Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania have been trained and are contributing to critical role of playing oversight over oil, gas and mining resources and revenue in Africa.
The participating journalists would be taken through classroom sessions, and visit the Western and Ashanti regions to look at various mining sites.
Dr George Lugalambi, the Media Capacity Development Officer of the Natural Resource Governance Institute, also advised that countries like Ghana should set aside a fund that would help cushion the national budget as the countries experience shortfalls in revenue due to volatility in world oil prices.
“The journalists should also be able to understand and tell the public about the processes in oil production and what the investor who put in more money to process the oil goes through before he is able to recoup his money and give the government’s share for national development,” he said.
On the training programme, Dr Lugalambi said experts from the extractive industry would take the journalists through topics such as the Role of Journalists, Natural Resources Decision Chain, Legal Framework and checklists for Strong and Compelling Stories as well as the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and Revenue Management.
Some of the participating journalists expressed the hope that the training would give them the capacity that would enable them to critically monitor and manage the extractive sector. GNA