The Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) and the Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth (GOGIG), in collaboration with the Civil Society & media Bid and Licensing Round Monitoring Group (“the CSO Working Group”), have virtually launched the CSO Working Group Report on Ghana’s first oil bid and licensing round.
The report titled “Ghana’s First Oil Licensing Round Monitoring Report” launched last week, recommended five (5) areas of focus for government beyond the application of the law in subsequent bidding rounds to ensure greater success.
It recommended that: Government must start issuing reconnaissance licenses to gather quality data to aid future bidding rounds.
“The cost for such an activity will be recovered from data fees during competitive tendering”, the report expatiated, adding that, Liberia used this approach to acquire data which enabled them to carry out competitive tendering.
It added that: government must publish disaggregated information on bidders and their respective blocks they are prequalified for; Disclosures on beneficial ownership must be made publicly available during the prequalification stage. This allows for citizens to monitor the bidding process and to identify politically exposed persons in the contract process.
The other recommendations included: Government must ensure that direct negotiations are done only where peculiarities that point to a specific company to optimise the resources are established; and the government must make deliberate eﬀorts to engage the public beyond the requirement of the law. It is recommended that such engagements must have feedback systems to encourage citizens to share information that might be relevant for the licensing round and by extension, the national interest.
Ghana’s first licensing round was officially launched in October 2018 to give effect to the open contracting provisions of Act 919. Prior to the enactment of Act 919, Ghana largely relied on direct negotiations for the award of petroleum licenses, which often crowds out experienced companies while encouraging politically induced awards. The plan was to award a total of six blocks: three via an open and competitive bidding process in line with section 10(3) of Act 919; two via direct negotiations in line with section 10(9) of same Law; and one reserved for the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to partner with strategic investors in line with sections 7(9) and 11(5) of Act 919.
To ensure openness and competitiveness of the bid process, and efficient implementation of the regulatory policy, NRGI and GOGIG convened and established a CSO monitoring group (made up of civil society and the media) to serve as a strong external oversight and social accountability body throughout the process.
The CSO monitoring groups were tasked to ensure an objective assessment of the country’s adherence to the legal regime, best practice standards and ensure Ghanaians are well informed about the process for accountability. Working with three consultants, the Monitoring Group has produced a comprehensive report on the three stages of the bid process; a useful learning tool to inform future bid rounds in Ghana and beyond.
By Adnan Adams Mohammed