Governing African Extractives for Development Lessons from Ghana’s Petroleum Revenue Management Law
In order to ensure transparency, accountability and good governance, Ghana’s initiatives and its efforts to guarantee the sustainability of revenues from the hydrocarbons sector, have been largely informed by mistakes the country made in managing its own gold sector as well as the mistakes of its neighbours. The initiative not to use oil revenues for recurrent expenditures was aimed at ensuring that the funds were not immediately consumed but saved for when there is high volatility in oil prices as well as for future generations. Accordingly, Ghana set out to implement satisfactory governance, including strong governmental institutions with effective checks and balances, effective oil policies and a diversified economy, while nipping corruption in the bud and promoting the rule of law. However, it failed to ensure that its budget was not overly reliant on oil revenues, that clear benefits were accruing to the population as a result of the petroleum endowment and that volatility was limited. This resulted in over-indebtedness and eventually an economic crisis. The amendment of the PRMA is seen as a positive step towards rectifying Ghana’s mistakes. Ghana would do well to expedite the adoption of regulations to assist with the implementation of the PRMA in order to limit ministerial discretion. It also needs to further encourage civil society, grassroots organizations and government institutions to go on working together towards better governance of the extractives sector through drives for transparency, accountability and capacity building.