The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has charged regulators of Ghana’s mining industry to implement international best mining practices in the award of contracts to ensure accountability in the extractives sector.
This statement comes on the back of sstakeholders in the extractive sector constantly expressing dissatisfaction in contract agreements awarded to companies and the ineffective monitoring of the agreements.
The Energy institution, ACEP has over the years, called for a review of existing petroleum agreements and appropriate sanctions for defaulters of the law however, with the recent launch of a new Contracts Monitor Platform, which is an online tool to digitally track all petroleum agreements in the country, the Centre plans to bridge the wide gap created over the years.
The platform, which started as a study in 2017, proved the inactivity of non-producing oil blocks in the country, contrary to the legal obligations on contractors to make minimum financial and technical investments within specified periods. It comes as a step in further tackling the problems identified in the study.
Elucidating the idea behind the new platform, the Head of Policy Unit at the Centre, Pauline Anaman, intimated that the centre plans to expand the scope of the new platform to cover the mining sector, hence the call for better strategies to ensure transparency and accountability.
“The Ghana Contract Monitor is a representation of how far Ghana has come, from the abyss of extractive contract secrecy, to the glory of contract transparency. But contract transparency is not enough in the wake of an era of open contracting. ACEP intends to expand the scope of the Ghana Contract Monitor Platform to cover mining contracts. To this end, we call on the regulators of Ghana’s over a Century-old mining industry to legalize and implement international best practices on open contracting that achieves good accountability results at every stage of the mining value chain for meaningful development outcomes.”
Pressing home their demands, Ms. Anaman reiterated their call on government to review existing petroleum agreements and sanction non-compliant contractors, stressing that, “Companies have failed to deliver on their contractual obligations due to lack of competition for blocks, weak parliamentary oversight, poor track record of some companies, and political patronage of the inefficiencies we see”.
Educating the public on the platform, she stated that the Ghana Contract Monitor Platform serves as an online tool that provides updates on work progress of non-producing extractive sector companies who have valid agreements with the Government of Ghana to explore, develop, and produce petroleum and mineral resources in the country.
According to ACEP, the rationale behind the platform is to ensure that contractors do not hold Ghana’s blocks for speculative reasons, but rather make the necessary technical and financial investments that will increase resource production for fiscal and non-fiscal benefits that drive the country’s development.
The Ghana Contract Monitor currently reports work progress of 14 operators in Ghana’s upstream oil and gas industry. The platform is also friendly for persons with disabilities as it has been equipped with text to speech features for the blind.