Maximising local content and encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to be more involved with Ghana's fledgling oil and gas industry were the two strong themes of the Ghana Summit, which concluded in Accra yesterday
Speaking at the opening session, Dr. Rashid Pelpuo, minister of state, described Ghana as a "young oil-producing country" and emphasised the importance of "propping up SMEs" and increasing Ghanaian involvement in petroleum production.
Michael Aryeetey, chief operating officer for GNPC Exploration and Production Company, reiterated Dr. Pelpuo's sentiments, outling the GNPC strategy for the development of hydrocarbons in Ghana. Aryeetey outlined the importance of "building local capacity" through improved investment, training to develop human capital, and grater efficiencies.
Joint ventures were cited by multiple speakers as an important strategy for developing the oil and gas industry and increasing local participation along the entire value chain. Theo Ahwireng, chef executive of the Petroleum Commission, Ghana's regulatory body for oil operations, said that despite the "challenging time" for the industry, Ghana has been "very blessed during this period", and said the Jubilee project, which operates in conjunction with Tullow, Kosmos, Eni, Hess and Lukoil has been very successful.
High interest rates in Ghana continue to obstruct access to finance for Ghana's SMEs so joint ventures will continue to play a major role in oil and gas development, but speakers were keen to emphasise the importance of foreign investors transferring technology and skills to local people and companies. Foreign direct investment in Ghana's oil industry peaked in 2010 at US$7.6bn, dropping to US$1.63bn in 2013, but picking up again to US$2.35bn in 2014.
In his keynote address, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, minister for petroleum, highlighted the importance of robust regulation to attract investment.
"We don't take that [foreign investment] for granted," said Buah. "We are taking steps to ensure transparency and strengthened regulations to attract investment in Ghana ... we need to ensure transparency in everything we do".