Tuesday, June 1, 2010

oil still creates doubts

Ghana has found oil, that is often the sermon politicians tell their friends in the International community. They are quick to say the revenue from the oil will change everything in Ghana; good roads, education, jobs and appreciable incomes. Unfortunately not many people are falling for that. After all gold, cocoa, timber and other natural resources have done extremely little to change the country's fortunes. People are still poor. Obuasi, the hub of gold mining in Ghana is in a gory state; residents are living in abject poverty. Enchi, one of the most endowed cocoa growing communities is living without any decent electricity, buildings, decent water and roads. Health facilities are completely crap. The only health health facility is more than seven kilometres away from most of the people and was built by the presbyterian church. They run the hospital with no funds coming from government. It's a pity but that is the truth. So not many people are swallowing this whole talk of oil boom and economic prospects. Lessons have well being learnt by the average Ghana and the thing you don't do is to allow the politicians to convince you when it comes to matters like natural resources. At the moment the country's percentage is less than five percent, so where is that economic empowerment going to come from? There is no proper oil regulation to define the boundaries about the drilling and how the expectations among ordinary people will be managed. The BBC has been on the road with the programme, Africa Kicks, where they look at different aspects of life in countries they are visiting.The team was in Takoradi on Tuesday afternoon to discuss this so-called black gold. After an hour of crossed debate from all the guests it became clear that not many people are looking forward with clean teeth about the oil changing anything. It's going to be the same old story, according to one of the guest, a dreadlocked beauty who spoke with loads of Jamaican slang in his lines. Others like her also cited the wanton corruption in the system and how much politicians love to talk but do nothing. It was an unfortunate spectacle but the gospel truth, even from me, is that the oil discovery will change nothing. Ghana will be as corrupt and inefficient as it has been for more than forty years. That is my verdict.

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