By Godwill Arthur-Mensah, GNA
Accra, March 19, GNA - Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has announced Government’s ambition to embark on aggressive exploration in the upstream oil industry to revive the petroleum industry, accelerate discoveries and to replace the depleting oil reserves.
To that end, he said, the Government would embark on Ghana’s first bidding round later this year to allocate oil blocs to competent local companies in the offshore basins, while the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation was actively undertaking seismic work on onshore Voltaian Basin.
These efforts, Vice President Bawumia believed would ensure the revival of the oil industry locally and create more business opportunities for Ghanaian firms and businesses to create jobs and ensure wealth creation.
Vice President Bawumia said this when he delivered a keynote address at the Ghana-Norway Business and Investment Forum in Accra, on Monday.
The two-day forum is being organised by the Norwegian Embassy in Ghana, Norwegian African Business Association and Norfund, aimed at fostering co-operation and partnerships between Ghanaian and Norwegian companies and businesses, to enhance business and investment opportunities in the country towards achieving economic growth and job creation.
There are 30 business delegations from Norway, Germany, Holland and other G-20 countries taking part in the forum to explore investment opportunities in Ghana.
The event is a follow-up of the Norwegian-African Business Summit held in Oslo, Norway, in October, last year, which Ghana’s Vice President Dr Bawumia made a presentation on the need for Norway and other developed countries to invest in Africa.
The forum was used to launch the new West Africa Office of the Norwegian Investment Fund (Norfund) for developing countries in Accra as well as the signing of the Norwegian-German Investment Facilitation Agreement to bolster investment in Ghana.
Vice President Bawumia said in February this year government launched the Petroleum Register, which contained all the 17 published petroleum active agreements and permits, thereby making Ghana one of the leading countries in Africa, with resource contract transparency and a demonstration of the government’s commitment to fight corruption in the extractive industry.
In recognition of the capacity and skills gap in the petroleum sector, he said, the government launched the Accelerated Oil and Gas Capacity Programme in fulfilment of government’s promise to train Ghanaian youth in various skills, including welding, mechanics, engineering and position them to play front roles in the oil and gas sector.
He said the Programme would also target and support small-and-medium scale enterprises to become competitive, in order to win contracts in the petroleum sector in compliance with the local content policy.
Vice President Bawumia said Ghana was the best investment destination and assured government’s commitment to pursue business-friendly programmes and policies to improve the business climate for domestic and foreign investments.
He said the government believed that private sector participation was crucial in achieving the President’s vision of building ‘‘Ghana Beyond Aid’’ since the public sector alone could not shoulder all the challenges of national development.
In that regard, he said government was embarking on bold and innovative reforms to de-risk the business environment and laying the right foundation for business development.
Vice President Bawumia used the opportunity to share with the business delegation government’s vision and strategic focus in the short, medium and long-term development agenda.
He underscored the need for the Ghanaian business community and their foreign counterparts participating in the forum to strike strategic partnerships that would be mutually beneficial.
The Vice President said the Nana Addo Dankwa-Akufo-Addo-led government on assumption of office in January this year had been initiating programmes and policies that would be conducive for investment.
Some of these programmes include; the National Digital and Property Addressing System, the Paperless Port System, the National Identification System, the interoperability of the payment system, electronic registration of businesses, among other innovative programmes.
Vice President Bawumia noted that these programmes would speed-up business transactions and helps prevent corruption in the public sector.
He stressed the need for the nation to place greater premium on cross border and overseas trade and investment as well as deepen and enhance efficiency of domestic revenue mobilisation, allocation of public resources and ensure greater accountability in the use of the resources.
‘‘To build the ‘‘Ghana Beyond Aid’’, we need long-term pillars. Ghana must endeavour to strengthen the knowledge, scientific and technical capacity of citizens by improving access to quality education.
‘‘We have to leverage on our natural resources for national development through value addition in a fair and mutually understanding of exchange,’’ he stated.