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Stakeholders Urge Wider Public Input into Local Content Law

  • SOURCE: | qwesa2big
  • fishing 2An online discussion among stakeholders in the oil and gas industry has urged promoters of Ghana’s local content law on energy to include the views of the local people in the law since they would be affected in various ways by the final outcome of the law.

    The stakeholders in the sector have been discussing ways to make Ghana’s local content legislation stronger and richer.

    The online discussion initiated by PenPlusBytes as part of its project on “Empowering the Media to play an active Watchdog Role over Oil and Gas Revenue and Resources” has since Monday September 9, 2013 been debating the on the topic “Promoting Local (Ghanaian) Content in petroleum activities: Where is Ghana?

    The active and lively discussion which lasted for 10 days (Monday September 9, 2013 to Thursday September 19, 2013) elicited important suggestions for fine-tuning Ghana’s approach to Local (Ghanaian) Content and Participation in the Oil and Gas sector.

    Key highlights of the discussion was centred on how the state can empower local entrepreneurs to exploit opportunities in the oil and gas sector, the low awareness about opportunities in the sector for skills acquisition and certification, and the actualization of local content by way of skills transfer which is said to have been moving too slowly.

    Among others the discussants, made up of renowned energy experts, policy analysts, journalists, public relations practitioners and corporate governance experts, suggested that in order to have a stronger and detailed legislation that will take into consideration the concerns of all, government must ensure that the views of even those at the remotest part of the country are included in the document for Parliament’s consideration.

    “The draft local content legislation should be disseminated widely across the fringe districts to allow for input from average citizens before its passage.  The local content legislation should include a provision on capacity building and funding support to facilitate civil society monitoring of local content delivery,” the group stated, while urging Ghanaians to position themselves for opportunities in the industry.

    As a form of capacity building for the industry, the discussants have suggested to government to groom selected Businessmen with potentials at an “Incubation” Centre and provide them with capital to function effectively without relying too heavily on Bank Loan financing for survival. This according to them is a means to ensure the involvement of the local people in the oil boom.

    According to them, consideration must be given to the inclusion of local content in bidding rounds and allocation of higher margins for the bidder that will equate the requirements under the local content regulation. This they claim can reduce the current system of prescriptive, command approach to largely performance driven approach which is more acceptable to the IOCs.

    “The Awareness creation and sensitization on Oil and Gas sector opportunities for skills acquisition and certification must be improved; international standards must be demystified and promoted while at the same time developing parallel localized standards which do not offend quality principles to improve opportunities for local participation,” the discussants noted.

    They want local content and participation conceptualized around spending of revenues, employment and ownership with emphasizes on revenue spending in the Ghanaian economy in a manner that adds value to “allied (not only directly related) industries can create jobs”.

    Government according to the discussants must undertake thorough and realistic audit of the entire value chain and identify where locals can participate more effectively and work to facilitate their participation, clear guidelines for monitoring, evaluating and measuring value addition must be developed and widely publicized to optimize local content participation.

    To create a pool of internationally competitive Ghanaian oil and gas sector related businesses, members of the platform want government to provide financial Capital, using well established and transparent criteria.

    Media should carry out good exposé on projects which IOCs are carrying out in support of local content. This is to improve awareness and increase access to opportunities.

    The Business Analyst has gathered that Cabinet has approved the draft local content bill. The document is expected to be presented to Parliament in its next meeting commencing on October 29. As part of the procedure in considering the law Parliament is expected to carry out a nationwide sensitization programme to collect public opinions on the bill.

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