Although the proliferation of the oil and gas industry in Ghana seems relatively new, its prospects has been with us since 1970 some may contend earlier. In all this time it seems most of the country’s citizens have little or no knowledge about the happenings in the industry. Apart from the lack of knowledge there also seems to be a gross lack of interest in this billion dollar sector.
Two surveys were conducted by the Ghana Decides Group one manually and the other electronically. They sampled portions of the population by means of convenience sampling and used the statistical package for the social sciences (SPSS) to analyze the results. They first sampled 94 participants from all walks of life 47 were male and 47 were female 1 of the surveys got lost. The sample were of different ages 7 of whom were under 18, 52 were between 18 and 29, 21 were between 30 and 39, 13 were between 40 and 59 and 2 were above 60.
Of the people interviewed one had no education, 13 had up to Junior high school education,14 had senior high school aducation,25 had vocational or polytechnic education,30 had university education and 12 had post graduate education.
The survey was to test how informed the citizens were about Ghana’s Oil revenue. The first part of that survey sought for demographics. In the second part 4 questions relating to oil and gas were raised and the participant was to choose from 4 options which he agreed with most. In the third part of the survey seven issues regarding oil and gas were raised and the participants were to rank them in order of importance in ascending order.
12.6% of the sample was well informed about Ghana’s Petroleum Revenue, 41.1% were somehow informed, 41.1% were not informed, and 5.3% did not care. Again 42.1% said Ghana was better off without oil, 42.1% said Ghana was not better off without oil and 15.8 % said they did not know. Also 17.2% of the sample said the political parties were addressing their concerns on the oil and gas issue, while 61.3%of the sample said the political parties did not address their concerns and 21.5% did not know whether or not the political parties were addressing their concerns. Again 47.8% of the sample said that oil and gas was important in elctions,34.8% disagreed and 17.4% were undecided.
From the sample the most important issue is transparency and accountability of the oil and gas revenue, maximizing Ghana’s share of total oil and gas revenue, protection of livelihood of farmers and fisher folk in oil & gas producing areas, fair distribution of oil and gas revenue, participation of Ghanaians in oil and gas industry, protection of environment from effects of oil exploitation and lastly, affordable accommodation for people in oil & gas producing areas.
Another survey was taken by the Ghana Decides Group on twitter, a social medium which seems to have its participants being a little more aware of the physical, economic and political climate of Ghana and at least assumedly literate enough to get a general grasp of the substantive issues in the country. Two hundred and eighty four people took the poll. The poll had four items as options to the question “How informed are you about how Ghana’s oil revenue is spent”. The number is not in any way representative of Ghanaians on twitter let alone Ghanaians as a whole but it gives one enough of an insight to make tentative assumptions.
Of the 284 poll takers, approximately 14 people representing 5 % of the total number admitted to being well informed about how Ghana’s oil revenue is spent. Approximately 34 people representing 12 % of the total sample admitted to being somehow informed about how the revenue is spent. About 188 people said they were not informed about how the oil revenue was spent and 48 people representing 17% of the sample said they didn’t care how the oil revenue was spent.
The combination of the apathetic and ignorant Ghanaian is at an astonishing 83% of the total sample takers. This is an indictment on the Ghanaian if these figures are anything to go by.
In addition to the poll, there were tweets regarding the same issue from twitter chats organized by Ghana Decides. The revenue from the oil has been projected to be about 3.3 billion dollars since production. One of the survey takers opined that our oil revenue will have been more but for the drop in the prices of oil, the same person said it has helped the economy by allowing the country to borrow more. There was also a discussion about hedging against the risk which involves an investment to reduce the risk of adverse pricing in asset. Considering how volatile oil prices are it is no wonder that the oil companies do same. A participant wanted to know what the hedging strategy was in Ghana. Several participants agreed that the oil revenue has had almost no impact in Ghana. Others suggested the resource be monitored closely to protect public interest. Another participant said only one university, University of Professional Studies offers a Masters program in Petroleum Accounting& Finance. These views inform us of how inadequate our human resources are to handle these new developments. There are little or no efforts being made to adequately prepare the Ghanaian to deal internally with our oil issues without resorting to importation of foreigners to do jobs we are mentally equipped to do but for the lack of training and investment in these sensitive areas. There is always a clarion call for government to sensitize the people about various issues but the citizenry also has a duty to educate themselves concerning these issues. It is our duty to be vigilant and analytical and educate ourselves regarding our own rights and benefits.