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Addae-Mensah warns Ghanaians about euphoria over oil find

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Ghanaians have been cautioned against being euphoric over the country’s oil find, and avoid contracting loans in anticipation of the revenue to be derived from the oil.

A former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Ivan Addae-Mensah who sounded the caution at a development forum in Takoradi, urged that more attention should be given to agriculture, according to a Daily Graphic report of Monday September 27, 2010.

Prof. Addae-Mensah, who once served as a Minister of State during the Third Republic was quoted as saying that “Even if the country was entitled to more than 50% of the expected revenue, it still needs to secure five times the amount to realize a realistic hope of making major economic take-off.”

If the country would need more than five times the expected oil revenue, “why then are we rushing into all sorts of huge loans ostensibly with our envisaged or expected oil and gas revenue as our hope? He asked.

He warned Ghana to take a cue from Nigeria that went the same way and took huge loans in the 1970s including what he described as “kickbacks from dubious loans” from which the country is yet to recover.

Prof. Addae-Mensah said he believes some of the expectations are rather exaggerated and unrealistic, and need to be carefully managed.

He called for moderation and diversification of the country’s economy, because the country has been over-relying on its primary products with very little value addition. In his view this was one of the biggest challenges, and he feared that the gas and oil sector was likely to be faced by the same situation.

The largest oil field to be discovered in West Africa in the last 10 to 15 years is in Ghana. The Jubilee oil field is said to contain about 1.5 billion barrels of oil and has 17 wells. Commercial production of oil in the field is due to begin in November or December this year.

The major stakeholder in the field, Tullow Oil has said Ghana will be among the world’s 50 top oil producing countries when commercial production starts.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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