Sowing the Oil? Building a Pro-Poor System for Petroleum Revenue Management and Expenditures in Ghana

oil has overtaken cocoa as Ghana's second largest export commodity. Oil contributed to unprecedented growth in Ghana's GDP in 2011.

After over three years of production, oil has overtaken cocoa as Ghana's second largest export commodity. Oil contributed to unprecedented growth in Ghana's GDP in 2011 while from 2011 -2013 Ghana was the third largest recipient of FDI in Africa largely on account of oil investment. Ghana has so far received over US$2 billion from its share of crude oil. But with production expected to increase as a result of new developments and new discoveries - and Ghana set to receive at least $20 billion in oil revenues in the next decade - experts and citizens are already reflecting on how early oil revenues have been managed. Ghana's management of petroleum revenues has been characterized by greater transparency than most countries, including regular quarterly publication of payments received by the government from oil companies as required under the landmark 2011 Petroleum Revenue Management Act.  In addition, the government has responded to demands that more oil money be spent on pro-poor sectors such as agriculture. At the same time, accountability remains very low arising from a number of factors including for instance weak spending capacity by the National Oil Company, visible weaknesses in public expenditure management, demonstrated evidence of inefficient spending of oil money through the national budget; and government's exploitation of weaknesses in the law to spend oil money saved in the Ghana Petroleum Funds. Controversies over licensing new oil blocks and secrecy at the state oil company have further fuelled questions about the government's management of the sector.

Oxfam America has supported local oil watchdog groups in Ghana such as the African Centre for Energy Policy, Friends of the Nation and the Ghana Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas and has worked to influence the policies of International Financial Institutions, oil companies, the US government and others related to Ghana's oil and gas sector. 

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Ian Gary leads the policy, advocacy and research work for the Oxfam America global program on oil, gas and mining issues. Prior to joining Oxfam in 2005, Ian was Strategic Issues Advisor – Extractive Industries at Catholic Relief Services (CRS) from 1999 to 2005. He has held positions with the Ford Foundation as well as international development organizations in the U.S. and Africa.  Ian is the author of the Oxfam America report Ghana’s Big Test: Oil’s Challenge to Democratic Development (2009); co-author, with Terry Lynn Karl of Stanford University, of the CRS report Bottom of the Barrel: Africa’s Oil Boom and the Poor (2003); and co-author of Chad’s Oil: Miracle or Mirage? (2005), issued by CRS and the Bank Information Center. Ian has been a frequent commentator on extractive industries issues in major media outlets including New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian (UK), Le Monde, Washington Post, Financial Times, BBC, NPR and other outlets.  He has testified twice before the US Congress.  Ian has conducted field research on extractive industries issues in 15 countries and holds a MA degree from the University of Leeds (UK) in the Politics of International Resources and Development and a BA from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. 

James Van Alstine is Lecturer in Environmental Policy, Deputy Director of the Sustainability Research Institute (SRI), and Programme Leader of the MSc Sustainability (Environmental Politics and Policy) in the School of Earth and Environment. With a disciplinary background in human geography, James draws upon organisational and institutional theories as well as political economy and political ecology to explore human-environment interactions at multiple scales. His research focuses on natural resource governance and politics, corporate social responsibility and international development, community-driven accountability and social justice, and climate change governance.


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