Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Oil find, Ghana's hope and Morocco's disappointment

Oil alone isn’t the key to development and prosperity. There are many countries that don’t have oil at all and yet they are ranked among the richest. Japan and Germany are just examples. What makes a country rich is the way it is run in the spirit of democracy and hard work. Oil is just a part of the riches that one can have. Without economic activities, it becomes worthless. You can have oil, but if you don’t have, for example, a car to use it, it will just lay to waste. Oil is just a means to make machines work. The machines should be efficient and productive.

There are many oil producing countries that can’t manufacture their oil sufficiently at least for home consumption. Iran and Nigeria are an example. Iran has to import manufactured oil when it has crude oil in abundance. It has introduced a quota for drivers who can’t exceed 4 litres a day or they should pay more for an extra quantity.

Ghana was once called the Gold Coast. But after independence it missed many golden opportunities for a good start due to coups and dictatorship. Now it has another gold opportunity for an economic surge thanks to the discovered oil. Oil will be a test of its current democracy. If it isn’t used beneficially for all the Ghanaians, it can threaten the current stability as it can be the source of corruption and deep economic inequalities between classes and regions.

In 2000, there was an official announcement that a big oil reserve was found in the east of Morocco in Talsint. That was widely reported on the media including the BBC. That raised a lot of hope. One year later, it was announced the find was a hoax or rather a banana oil. The expected amount of oil wasn't in the discovered fields. The hopes evaporated in smoke, the way the would-be discovered oil should have done. Instead of getting cheap oil, Morocco had to pay more for it due to the unprecedented soaring prices.

For Ghana, let’s hope it will see the flame of it oil burning to enlighten its path for progress. Good paths should be laid for it not to go just in fumes without moving the country anywhere.

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