2 August 2010

Ghana: Churches to Be Involved in Oil and Gas Issues

Accra — A three-day Sensitization Workshop has been held on Oil and Gas by the Christian Council of Ghana to build capacity of constituents on the impact and effects of the oil and gas production and manage expectations.

The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), recognizing the role of the Church as major social partner, has since its establishment sought an increased engagement between its member churches and citizen groups with local and national government on social and economic practices that impact human welfare and development.

However, it provides forum for joint action on issues of common interest, through its collaborative work with other Christian and civil society organization (CSOs) to advocate for the voiceless in the Ghanaian society.

"The discovery of oil in large quantities at Offshore Cape Three Point came as a good news to Ghanaians and most especially, the communities around the Cape Three Points received it with mixed feelings as they deliberate on the impact of socio-economic development for its men and women," the Most Rev. Dr. Robert Aboagye-Mensah, has said. He also said that oil discovery can be a curse or blessing to a nation depending on how it is managed by government and other stakeholders in the sector.

Oil and gas development is a "dirty business" and as such contributes to carbon dioxide and emissions that threaten health and environment of our people, as is seen recently in the Mexico areas affecting large geographical and human endeavors, he mentioned.

"The revenue from oil and gas will be better if solely managed by an independent commission with parliamentary oversight. It is for these reasons that the coalition members seek to contribute to the development of a peaceful, just and equitable society in Ghana, where there will be an increased realization of social and economic justice as well as human rights of the disadvantaged and voiceless in Ghana," he stated.

He further explained that there is the need for the church to build capacity in the youth so that they can also benefit from the oil and gas discovery. What are the churches responsibilities in the oil and gas sector, and what is the mindset of the people? What guarantees are there to show that this time around it is going to be better and how are we preparing ourselves for this oil? - Dr. Aboagye-Mensah.

He added that churches must come out and get people to speak when it comes to oil and gas issues since the church has a role to play. He also said the church has to position itself very well in the oil and gas sector, else it will explode.

However, he mentioned that the Church must think about how it can invest in the oil and gas sector because there is nothing wrong with churches investing in business. He said the Church must think about what the communities needs in terms of social amenities so that it can help and not leave everything on the government to provide.

"How do we make this oil and gas work for us as a nation and not work against us?" He said if the country manages its natural resources well, they become a blessing; however, if a country does not manage its natural resources well, they become a curse on the nation.

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