Channel Oil Revenue to develop Education, Health and Agriculture Sector

The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), a policy think tank, has called on the government to channel a greater part of the oil revenue in critical sectors of the economy like agriculture, education and health to ensure effective economic growth and development. ACEP believes investing the oil revenue in these sectors will significantly contribute towards addressing the challenges of socio-economic disparities and also help in the reduction of poverty. This call was made at a forum organised by ACEP in collaboration with the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the College of Humanities and Legal Studies, University of Cape Coast. The forum was on the theme “Five Years of Oil Production in Ghana, the Need to Invest in Education, Health and Agriculture” at Auditorium 900 of the Faculty of Education Lecture Theatre. Speaking at the forum, The Head of Policy Unit of ACEP, Dr. Ishmael Ackah noted that countries such as Indonesia, Norway, Trinidad and Tobago have judiciously benefitted from oil exploration because they invested the proceeds to develop critical areas in their countries. On the other, he said countries like Nigeria and Venezuela were still grappling with poverty due to mismanagement of their oil revenue. According to Dr. Ackah there was the need for the government to prioritise and increase investment in these areas for long-term benefits and equity. He expressed worry that the government’s annual budgetary fund allocation to these three sectors continues to fall especially, agriculture. He, therefore, called for a proper investment plan with concrete monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure that Ghana derives value for money adding that “there must be determined efforts to use the oil resources to transform these sectors of the economy.” The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of ACEP, Mr. Benjamin Boakye, noted  some projects had been funded with the oil proceeds in the educational sector, however, he observed that “the funded projects were insensitive to educational needs.” He said the oil revenue should target bridging the socio-economic disparities in the education sector by eliminating schools under trees as well as improving access and quality. Mr. Boakye said the Minister for Petroleum had the discretion to determine which areas to invest the oil revenue stressing “there is no government policy or a provision in the Petroleum Management Act which determines which areas the revenue from the oil should be invested.” The Provost of the College of Humanities and Legal Studies, Prof. Stephen Kendie, who chaired the forum pointed out that Ghana produces less barrels of oil compared to Nigeria adding that “we need to give equal attention to other sectors of the economy such as Agriculture which until recently contributed more than 70 per cent of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).” The Head, Department of Sociology and Anthropology Dr. Brempong Osei Tutu, said the forum was to build consensus and make a case for other sectors of the economy, especially the agriculture and education sectors of the economy. He commended John Widie Ansah for playing an instrumental role for the department to host the forum.