Adnan Adams Mohammed
In the wake of citizens eagerly seeking transparency and accountability in the management of their countries natural resources, there is much pressure on institutions that plays watchdog role on government’s activities and businesses to be more capable and equipped with industry knowledge and facts to be able to probe and unearth hidden information for public interest.
The media is one of the major institution that plays major watchdog role in all countries. Journalists are therefore needed to grow their ability to interrogate and interpret public debates on State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) governance and ensure balanced reporting that seek the better interest of the citizens.
It is on this note that, the Natural Resource Governance Institute and its partners’ have organized training for editors and reporters in the country on Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC) governance and expenditure and as well on data journalism from Thursday to Saturday at Golden Tulip Hotel Accra. The training was to equip media practitioners to be able to play effectively the watch dog role through better understanding and probing of the relevant issues and agencies in the extractive sector.
“Strenghtening media capacity to play an effective oversight role in promoting good governance of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and state participation in the extractive sector” was the theme for the three-day training.
Key industry players who facilitated the training workshop included; Dr. Kwame Baah Nuako, Sustainability Manager at GNPC, Mr Emmanuel Kuyole, Executive Director of CEDA, Nasir Alfa Mohammed, Legal Practitioner with NRGI and moderated by Nafi Chinery, NRGI and Gideon Ofosu-Peasah, an Economist and Consultant.
|Gideon Ofosu-Peasah, an Economist and Consultant with NRGI
Media persons trained were drawn from all the print, electronic and online media from across the country. The training is part of series of training and media support NRGI has constantly being giving to media to help them make their reportage and impact on the extractive more accurate, change lives and ensure transparency and accountability to the ordinary citizens.
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) generally play an important role in the economies of resource-rich countries. SOEs are comparatively more common or dominant in the oil and gas sector than the mining sector. For this reason, the majority of SOEs often find expression in nationally owned oil companies (NOCs).
Recent World Bank / IMF data has shown that some 90 percent of world petroleum reserves are controlled by NOCs which also control about 75 percent of oil production world-wide. Resource-rich countries therefore often use NOCs as strategic institutions to catalyse economic growth and development, including stimulating local content, local participation and positive economic spillovers, long-term economic control and financial returns, and more effective state control over the pace and development of the industry.
Regardless of these prospects, NOCs can face serious risks caused by poor oversight, political interference, poor governance and sometimes a deviation from their core mandate.
As part of its ambitipous business strategy, Ghana’s national oil company, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) aims at being a stand-alone operator by 2019 and a world-class operator by 2027.
However, GNPC has in recent times experienced political interferences, cited for limited public disclosure despite its reporting obligations, and corporate governance issues5 as they affect transparency, accountability and profitability of the Corporation’s operations. Based on the performance and activities of GNPC so far, this ambitious goal of becoming a stand-alone operator by 2019 and a world-class operator by 2027 looks unattainable, as confirmed by GNPC’s General Manager for Sustainability, Dr Kwame Baah-Nuakoh in his presentation.
|GNPC’s General Manager for Sustainability, Dr Kwame Baah-Nuakoh
Among others issues of corporate governance, especially pertaining to procurement and possible political capture of the Corporation have become topical issues in public discourse.
A host of industry stakeholders have embarked on several interventions to improve the governance of GNPC, including NRGIs own previous efforts at building the capacities of GNPC officials and other oversight actors (including the media) to promote transparency and accountability in the governance of the Corporation.
A recent effort in this regard was in April 2019 when NRGI outdoored a national oil company database. The database and its emanating analysis provide enough evidence that transparency and oversight on the operations of national oil companies need to be enhanced. The evidence shows that under-scrutinized companies might perform poorly or become vessels for corruption.
The need for strengthening the capacity of the media as an unofficial but important oversight actor therefore remains relevant more than ever. Increased transparency is a critical lever for holding company leadership accountable and encouraging strong returns on public investment.
Among others, the training workshop discussed NRGI’s ongoing research into the sector and contextualize these findings based on Ghana’s experience.