VENTURES AFRICA – Ghana stands ready to elect its new President on Friday, amidst popular calls for the state to share oil revenues for the benefit of society.
President John Mahama and rival candidate Nana Akufo-Addo will on Friday face the test of the people’s opinion as the country decides on who will be the next President – a first round win depending on one of the candidates securing 50 per cent of the population’s vote, a feat that may not be achieved, thus pushing the election to a second round of voting.
A key issue in the presidential campaign – and in the elected president’s term to come – is that of oil revenues, the Ghanaian population increasingly calling on the government to spread oil wealth fairly around the country.
Having started oil production in 2010 – with Tullow Oil being the first corporation to begin pumping in Ghana – the country’s economy has seen a tremendous spike in growth, expanding 14.4 percent in 2011, and predicted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to grow 8.2 percent over the course of this year.
Oil has fuelled this expansion, with Tullow alone producing an average of 78,200 barrels of oil per day (bpd) in 2011 – its first full year of production. Output for the first six months of 2012 slowed somewhat to 63,000 bpd, however, the producer insists that by year end oil output will have picked back up and will reach 90,000 bpd.
Andarko Petroleum, Eni SpA and Tullow have all promised new oil wells in the coming period, as such Ghana’s oil industry is set to expand even further.
Meanwhile, the country has also seen a quickening of its gold production industry, with AngloGoldAshanti and Newmont Mining Corp. announcing the expansion of Ghanaian gold mines in response to rising global gold prices this year.
Conversely, the country’s hitherto successful cocoa farming sector has seen a slight decline, with output slowing to a predicted 800,000 tonnes this year from the 1 million metric tonnes produced in the 2010-2011 season, putting pressure on local producers.
As such, the incoming president will feel the increasing demands of the country’s population, who hope to see Ghana’s lucrative oil and gold industries benefit wider society – a society which is bearing the brunt of farming difficulties, and is not necessarily enjoying the profits of one of Africa’s quickest growing economies.