Ghana government urged to address local discontentment on oil find

Participants at a Workshop on Foreign Policy in Ghana’s Emerging Oil Economy have called on Government to address promptly and peacefully any local discontentment that might emerge from the oil find.

They contended that this should be done through dialogue, mediation, institutional capacity building and enforcement of corporate responsibility and accountability.

The workshop, organised under the auspices of Legon Centre for Foreign Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Frederich Ebert Foundation, was to examine Ghana’s policy within the context of Ghana’s oil find and the imminent status as an oil producing country.

The participants were drawn from academia, private sector, security agencies, Ministries, Department and Agencies, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, Civil Society and the Media.

It brought to the fore possible threats to Ghana’s security in the emerging oil economy including land and marine border disputes, terrorism, piracy, arms proliferation, organised crime, money laundering and other economic crimes.

The participants also recommended that Government should address the perceived lack of participation in the industry by the youth to pursue national development, provide alternative sources of livelihood for fisherman in the catchment area, and make adequate preparation for potential threats arising from spillages and environment impact.

Mr Chris Kpodo, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, said Ghana’s oil find presented challenges that called for a proactive foreign policy that would anticipate implications and involve the participation of all relevant stakeholders in policy implementation.

“These challenges call for a structured public diplomacy that would consistently explain the anticipated implications to the citizenry, neighbours and development partners,” he said.

The Deputy Minister said the challenges imposed on the nation the responsibility to intensify its diplomatic activities in order to maximise the benefits of the country’s international relations.

He expressed the hope that participants had candidly appreciated the challenges and the outcome of their deliberations would soon be published and offer recommendations and advice as to how the country could enhance the capacity of domestic political and economic institution as well as diplomacy to respond effectively to these contemporary circumstances.

“As we confront challenges of the oil find, let us remind ourselves that national frontiers are no constraints to crime and malfeasance and that international cooperation is today’s diplomatic duty and that we should see ourselves as diplomats charged with the promotion and protection of our overall national interest,” he added.

Mr Kpodo reminded the participants that from micro to macro diplomacy and from national crisis to global economy; diplomatic activity was becoming domestic while domestic activity was also becoming international activity.

Together, he said “we must find ways to work with one another with greater sensitivity to public and international opinion and reach across national divides and make the oil find a blessing rather than a curse”.

Mr D.K. Osei, Diplomat in Residence at LECIAD said the workshop could not resolve all major problems associated with the oil industry and recommended that participants continued to dialogue with stakeholders and create a platform for advocacy.

Ms Daniela Kuzu, Resident Director of Frederich Ebert Foundation called for continuous dialogue and sharing of ideas to make stakeholders proud of the policy.

Source: GNA

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