Each year, the Anglophone Africa Regional Extractive Industries Knowledge Hub intensive two-week September course in Accra focuses on the most pressing regional issues in resource governance. This year, I was one of 45 participants who traveled to Accra from Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, my native Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Topline themes from this year’s course included examining governance structures and gender inclusion in the natural resources sector. We learned about key issues like good governance, revenue management, the extractives value chain, local content, and how to effectively to leverage the benefits of extraction in African countries.
“It’s time for Africans to look at the governance structures by putting sustainable effective polices [into practice],” said Nana Awulae Annor Adjaye III, paramount chief of the Nzema traditional area in the Western Region of Ghana, during the course.
Nafi Chinery, Ghana country program manager for the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), which sponsors the course, emphasized the role of women in the extractives value chain. Chinery stressed the importance of gender inclusion and proactively seeking and making space for female participation in the extractive sector.
The course helped me gain a firmer command of issues facing my home country, Mozambique, where the government took out big loans based on expected revenues from gas production. The course’s cross-cutting topics and exercises pushed me to venture out of my professional comfort zone and opened my mind to revenue management and macroeconomic issues.
Twelve participant presentations highlighted some shared problems: a lack of transparency, corruption and poor management of natural resources. These problems aren’t specific to any one country or region, my co-participants said.
They saw countries to be competing to sell their resources, instead of cooperating to create economies of scale. Many countries also demonstrate gaps in information-sharing related to due diligence in licensing decisions, we observed.
The training included a site visit to the Ghana Gas plant in Atuabo. During the visit, we learned about the company’s high percentage of Ghanaian employees; its managers and directors are also Ghanaian. We also learned about negotiations for a contract to sell byproducts of flared gas to produce electricity.
The second training week focused on legal framework issues. Instructors helped us to understand that transparency during the negotiation process is a must, as are environmental and social protection and provisions for “local content.” Having a sense of a “national vision” for extractives were also emphasized; this includes clarifying socioeconomic goals before drafting laws. And there is no one-size-fits all approach to lawmaking, we found. Julliet Twumasi, a course facilitator on local content, referenced a scenario in which legislators in a new producing country may take two or three articles from Tanzania’s law on gas, take two articles from Sierra Leone on mining, and end up with a “Frankenstein law” that doesn’t work.
The final training day brought together the Africa Center for Energy Policy and the Ghanaian Petroleum Commission. Both organizations provided perspectives on the implementation of Ghana’s local content in the upstream sector.
Deisy Inssa Ribeiro is a legal officer at Wentworth Mozambique Petroles.