In Ghana, civil society has engaged with the issue of how best to use the resources generated by gold mining since the inception of Ghana’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2003 and has been seeking to extend that experience to the oil and gas sector.

Opposition parties tend to be more open to critiques about what is happening with the revenues from natural resource extraction, as they can use this to challenge the government. As a strategy, civil society therefore worked with the then opposition party National Democratic Congress, to persuade it to commit itself in its manifesto to transparent and accountable governance of the country’s natural resource sector.
After large quantities of oil were discovered in Ghana in 2007 (reportedly to generate at least US$1 billion in revenues per year for the next 20 years), a round-table meeting was organised to discuss the extension of EITI to the oil and gas sector.This brought divisions within civil society about whether and how to engage with EITI, because it was seen as donor driven and initiated by the UK Blair government rather than by Africans. However, the view of a number of CSOs was that while EITI was limited in some respects, the best approach was to work from the inside and seek to broaden and deepen its scope.

Participation in EITI working groups yielded useful information and gave civil society more leverage.The Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) became a reference for CSOs on the issue.The PWYP (Publish What You Pay) Norway Global Capacity Building Programme came at an opportune time to strengthen civil society’s ability to engage, particularly at the technical level. ISODEC and other CSOs also carried out awareness-raising workshops at the community level.

Partly as a result of having been lobbied while in opposition, the new president, Professor John Atta Mills (who took office in January 2009), publicly recognises the importance of transparency.The government agreed to put abridged versions of profit-sharing agreements online, including the fiscal terms. CSOs are now pressing for follow-up (including the full versions) and also for civil society participation in discussing the proposed Petroleum Revenue Management Bill.

Reference no.7