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'Ghanaians Must Play Key Roles In Oil and Gas Sector'   
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Minister of Petroleum, Mr Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah
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The Minister of Petroleum, Mr Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah says Ghanaians should be seen to play key roles in the country’s oil and gas industry if the resources must propel national development.

He says it is the desire of the government, as evidenced in its strategy, that the sector does not become another enclave for resource exploitation largely dominated by foreign interests, as has been the case with other national resources.

The minister was speaking at the week celebration of the Petroleum Engineering Students Association (PESA) of the University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa.

The Week Celebration, sponsored by Kosmos Energy, Ghana, focused on exposing students to the workings of the oil and gas industry and how they could contribute to its development as well as the creation of allied opportunities.

under the theme: The Petroleum Sector, a Contributing Factor to National Development and Employment Opportunities.”

The minister said judging from the experiences of countries which have recorded major oil and gas discoveries, the sector had the potential of providing the needed impetus for building a new growth pole in the Ghanaian economy.

“In the same way government believes that the synergy between the oil and gas sector and the rest of the economy is critical for ensuring that the country achieves broad-based development and that exploitation of its natural resources meets the needs and aspirations of the citizenry,” he said.

Mr Buah said the prospect of significant oil and gas production in the country creates an urgent need for a planning outlook that locates the development of these resources strategically at the heart of the national development agenda.

“In this regard”, he said, “the policy interventions prioritized for the development of the industry are aimed at achieving three key objectives set for it.”

The objectives, the minister said, include strengthening the capacities of local financial institutions to compete with their foreign counterparts for opportunities in the oil and gas project financing.

Aside the financing, there was also the need to build the relevant capacity for the industry with Ghanaians at the center of it, as well as diversifying the economy with emphasis on the processing of raw materials.

The level of unemployment and underemployment in the country he said, was of critical concern to government, adding, “There are high expectations on the potential benefits from the industry to improve the economy by engaging many Ghanaians both directly and indirectly in the industry.”

The minister said the issue of unemployment is better addressed by the indirect opportunities offered by the oil and gas sector in job creation especially for the youth.

He said as part of the strategy, there was the move to ensure the utilization of oil revenues in the prioritized areas such as agriculture, infrastructure, health, water and sanitation, education, rural development and poverty reduction.

Mr Buah said there were also incentives to facilitate investments along the oil and gas value chain for the benefit of the country. For his part, Dr John Gatsi, an Economist and Lecturer at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) who took the students through various sections of the oil and gas economy called for the careful management of expectations.

Oil and Gas resource ownership, he said, was key to effective and accountable management as many countries including Ghana were described as sovereign ownership jurisdictions, which create wealth for all.

The industry, he said, was indeed a key contributor to national development. He therefore called for the need to ensure proper management and urged students not to focus on waiting for the few job opportunities in the industry. Rather, he said it would be in the best interest of the students to explore other areas with their knowledge and ensure that the country was well positioned to achieve growth and development.

Dr Gatsi said what was needed currently was purposeful investment in gas resources and strategic gas infrastructure such as the gas processing plants.

He said the future energy prospects of the country was long predicated on gas, explaining that gas had to be harnessed and projected outputs measured appropriately.

“Aside that, let me say the recent review of the national budget of Ghana was largely due to the effects of crude oil price reduction therefore the need for purposeful investment.”

Officials of Kosmos Energy indicated their readiness to support ventures that would yield publicly available yet credible information about industry realities.

The students commended Kosmos Energy for the support and also for assembling independent experts to guide them and creating the needed synergies between academia and industry.
Source: Daily Graphic

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