Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, has urged Ghanaians not to expect a dramatic improvement in their collective lifestyles in a short period, as result of the country’s oil production.
He said the high expectation of the people associated with the oil production needed to be managed, since the nation’s production level was modest, adding that the failure to manage these hopes could lead to devastating consequences.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur made the call when he officially launched the Western Region Coastal Foundation (WRCF) in Takoradi.
The Foundation which is an initiative by the oil, gas and power companies located in six coastal districts of the region, are to address the high expectation of the people, as well as undertake social investment initiatives, to improve their engagement with the communities and stakeholders.
The six coastal districts to benefit from WRCF programmes and activities include Jomoro, Ellembelle, Nzema East, Ahanta West, Secondi/Takoradi and Shama.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur also stated that Ghana would continue to learn lessons from the best practices around the world, in order to avoid some of the challenges that came with producing oil.
He said the most important lesson was from countries where the exploitation of petroleum led directly to the collapse of other economic sectors, mostly Agriculture.
He said the development of the local content law for the oil and gas industry in November 2013 was to avoid some of these lessons, adding the law was needed to protect the interest of Ghanaians entrepreneurs and job seekers.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur called for a stable atmosphere to enable the nation maintain consistent production at optimal levels.
He said this could be done if the nation was able to maintain the social stability in the Western Region, by eliminating the causes of conflict.
He stressed the need to identify and remove the constraints that limited economic possibilities for the people. It required that the livelihood of farmers and fishermen must be improved.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur also gave the assurance that the government would continue to make investments that advanced the progress of the nation and enhanced the greater good of the people.
He cited for example that, the government has made significant investments in roads, healthcare, education, water and agriculture, adding that the Western Region in particular, had benefited from investments in oil and gas infrastructure.
Mr Paul Evans Aidoo, Western Regional Minister, stated that despite the region’s wealth in terms of cocoa, timber, rubber, manganese, gold, bauxite and other natural resources, this did not reflect on the infrastructural development and the lives of the people in the region.
He said it was only recently that bold decisions had been taken to re-construct and rehabilitate some major roads in the region.
He expressed the hope that the programmes and activities to be implemented through the Foundation, would promote alternative livelihood to foster better business support services, and develop education and employment training programmes.
He urged the board and management of the Foundation to involve the people, chiefs as well as the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies in the discharge of their duties, in order to meet the expectations, and allay the fears of the people in their relationship with the oil and gas industry.
Mr Jon Benjamin, British High Commissioner in Ghana, disclosed that the United Kingdom (UK) government through its Department for International Development had committed £9.5 million over a five-year period to support, towards the set up of the WRCF.
He said the unique initiative brought together key stakeholders for the effective use of corporate social responsibility funds for development, conflict resolution and inclusive growth in the Western Region.
He said the Foundation was expected to facilitate a structured dialogue mechanism, which would bring together civil society, industry and regional and local governments, to discuss and influence development priorities to contribute to stable and inclusive development for the six coastal districts.