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Ghanaian Energy minister decries citizens fronting for foreigners in local content

The Ghanaian Minister of Energy and Petroleum Resources, Mr. Boakye Agyarko has opened up, saying Africans should stop fooling themselves on issues relating to local content development in the continent’s oil and gas industry development.

According to him, the behaviour of some Ghanaians, who continuously front for foreign nationals to engage in businesses reserved for only Ghanaians in the petroleum industry is very disgraceful and to some extent criminal in nature after all.

According to him, “We should not content ourselves with being frontmen for ‘‘Nokofio’’and something small for ourselves, but should prove ourselves as competent partners”.

In his presentation at a forum on the topic: ‘‘After 10 Years of Petroleum Extraction, Do Indigenous Companies have the Capacity to Partner International Companies’’ in Accra, he urged Ghanaian companies that wanted to partner international firms to offer services in the oil and gas sector to raise their game and deliver services that meet industry specifications.

He noted with dissatisfaction that, Ghanaian insurance companies had provided only three per cent of the insurance cover for equipment and machinery used in the country’s petroleum sector, while foreign insurance firms covered a colossal 97 per cent.

He added that “We should look at our own psychological posture and must be willing to set up and put our best foot forward to show that we’re qualified to do whatever we’re supposed to do”.

Business Hilights gathered that the discussion formed part  of activities at the Sixth Edition of the Ghana Economic Outlook and Business Strategy Conference held on the theme: ‘’10 Years of Oil and Gas: Challenges and Prospects’’.

The forum was organised by the Africa Business Media Network, publishers of the Ghana Business and Finance Magazine, which brought together industry players, including regulators, service providers, operators, civil society organisations and government officials.

Experts say the event provided a platform for stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to deliberate on the successes, challenges and prospects of the petroleum industry and chart the way forward.

The Minister contested with proponents of the local content crusaders, who argued that, indigenous firms should be given contracts in the petroleum industry just in the name of the Local Content and Participation Policy, while they offered services below the required standards.

According to him, “And because of local content, a medical doctor, who is supposed to operate on me should be a Ghanaian, and of low quality, I’ll not accept that.

“I’ll not also accept a welder, who is supposed to operate on the FPSO, carry one million tonnes of hydrocarbon because we needed a Ghanaian welder.

“We take someone from Agblogbloshie onto the FPSO to try to explode it…’’which attracted spontaneous laughter from the audience, saying; ’’This is not a laughing matter…it is our attitude that we need to address,’’ he pointed out.

Mr Agyarko said the first time he boarded the FPSO John Agyekum Kufuor, he had a scare of his life because before boarding that platform, there were two canoes whereby two fishermen were roasting fresh fish with naked fire close to the facility, adding; ‘‘this could easily have caused fire outbreak’’.

He said in spite of that dangerous move by the fisher folks, which could have caused the nation huge financial losses; some civil society organisations were defending them, with the argument that, the presence of the FPSO was depriving fishermen of their livelihoods.