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Opinions of Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Columnist: Adomako, Appiah Kusi

Can The Crude Oil Save Ghana?

THE NEWS of Ghana striking oil in commercial quantities has been received well. From the length and breadth of the country the euphoria is the same. The minority group in parliament has sounded a note of caution to the government. To them, this is not the first time such news has come out.

Ghana’s economy will soon receive a significant boost with Monday’s announcement of the discovery of a large oil deposit in the country. The American firm, which has been prospecting for oil on the Western part of the country, has brought good tidings to the people in the country. The yield, we are told, is believed to be one of Africa’s biggest oil deposits in recent times. Many Ghanaians who have believed the country would be prosperous with discoveries of oil deposits have welcomed the announcement.


The news of the discovery did not give us an idea of the quantum of the deposit and the number of years it would take to lift the deposits from the sea. Energy Kosmos group should be exact and give us figures. This information is needed to help us to know whether it would be profitable to lift the oil or just the old story. Whilst holding brief for company to give us the statistical amount, it is proper that we do not over rejoice on the news. I am not a pessimist.

It is good for every nation to strike oil and lift it. In this global world the crude oil seems to decide and dictate the melting point in every nation. With the soaring crude oil prices and the tension in the Middle East, we have every course to be happy if we can at least get all our oil import from Ghana. The economy can save millions of dollars from crude oil import. Our energy crises can even be ameliorated if we have our own oil.


Whilst joining everybody to celebrate the news of the oil discovery in Ghana there are some fundamental questions that we need to answer. The question is: will the oil save our fragile economy? May be it would help create jobs but I want to say it plain as Langston Hughes said in his poem Let America Be American Again that ‘O, yes, I say it plain’ that crude oil will not turn our fortunes around.


In the olden days, the might of nations used to be depending on natural resources like gold, timber and crude oil. But today things seem to be changing. Nigeria has been earning more than US $100 billion from its crude oil export but today corruption and poor leadership has caused Nigeria to be poor. Again, Nigeria with the huge supply of crude oil, there is reported shortage of petrol, diesel and LPG all the time. Countries like United Kingdom, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, South Korea etc do not have any natural resources but their economy is buoyant and vibrant.

In this world, energy, agriculture, medicine, clean water and air, transportation, crime prevention and detection, and business are all driven by technology. Since technology and knowledge are the key factors of production we cannot be idle on this aspect and hope that Ghana can progress only through lifting oil.

It has now been established that the widening gulf between the rich North and poor South is as a results of technological divide. The gulf is natural resources gap. It is developed human resources that bring about the difference.


Oil has not even helped countries, which have been lifting. In Nigeria there has always been tension in the oil rich Niger Delta State. Other countries suffer the same fate. Oil has even brought instability in the world. Thank God, the His Excellency the President’s government has seen this dilemma. He was quoted as saying ‘that we have to learn the lessons from these African countries. What did they do wrong? We are already are putting together bout six different teams to go three Africa countries and three others, which has oil and to find out from them, what did they do wrong and what did they do right, so that we don’t fall into the same pit. We need to learn the lessons that others learn bitterly,”


We need not to over rejoice because there is more to striking oil in Ghana. We need oil as I have said before but it will not change our lot if we fail to invest in other aspect of the country. We need to develop and expand our education with emphasis on science and technology so that we break our dependency on foreign aid.

Let us be like Japan, United Kingdom or Netherlands which do not have any natural resources but yet they are rich and have a stable and giant economy. The question still remains: will crude oil save us?

Appiah Kusi Adomako is an international freelance and now writes from London. He can be contacted through:

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.