Monday, August 11, 2014

Penplusbytes, ACEP to Develop Platform to Monitor Oil Revenue

Following the consistent mismanagement, lack of transparency and corruption associated with the management of revenues from the Ghana’s extractive industry, Penplusbytes (International Institute of ICT Journalism) is partnering with Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) to develop a digital platform that would enable citizens to keenly monitor the oil and gas sector. 

The digital platform project aims at improving transparency in the management of Ghana’s oil and gas resources through active participation of citizens and relevant stakeholders. It also seeks to reduce the risk of mismanagement through fiscal accountability, contract transparency and other regulatory frameworks. This was contained in a statement issued and signed by Jeremiah Sam, Project Coordinator of Penplusbytes.

Ghana has over the years failed to properly manage its gold and other mineral resources leaving majority of the citizens wallowing in abject poverty. The country has also lost a larger part of its natural resources including lands, forests and water bodies to the extractive activities. 

At the moment, there is high anticipation among the Ghanaian populace suggesting that the oil and gas business is likely to face similar fate as the gold, which in effect could lead to public outburst against the managers of the oil and gas revenues. 

But Penplusbytes and ACEP’s initiative seems to have one stop solution to the continuous mismanagement of the revenues accrued from the extractive industry. The introduction of the digital platform which forms part of the online component of activities by the two credible institutions is expected to “Improve Transparency in Ghana’s gas and oil sector”. It is being supported by DFID. 

Kwami Ahiabenu II
The President of Penplusbytes, Kwami Ahiabenu II said “Penplusbytes’ rich experience in applying technology to enable citizens participate in decision making process backed by in-country experiences from Ghana, Uganda, Liberia, Tanzania, would ensure the development of an online platform that would take into consideration the needs of citizens. 

He said that the project would also develop a user-friendly application that would project the concerns of citizens whiles at the same time soliciting feedback from duty bearers for greater advocacy. 

 The online platform will be the tool to carry citizens along on the happenings in the governance of the oil sector. The project is expected to facilitate citizen’s participation in sending concerns or decision through a two-way interactive SMS messages, mailing list, mobile app, interactive voice response systems (IVR), mobile apps and integrated with social media all geared toward meeting the citizens where they are.

The Executive Director of ACEP, Mohammed Amin Adam said “we are excited to work with Penplusbytes on this project, since they are a lead organization in developing tools and applications that promote citizen participation in governance and we believe their vast experience in deploying new digital technologies for citizen engagement combined with ACEP’s research and advocacy capabilities will help the project in achieving it ultimate objective of citizens’ participation. Penplusbytes is one key organisation which understands technology and governance to help us achieve project goals.”                                            

Penplusbytes since 2001seeks to empower the media through the use of ICTs to advance the course of journalism in the areas of governance and accountability, new media and innovations and oil, gas and mining. And the Africa Centre for Energy Policy- (ACEP) was established in 2010. It seeks to influence energy sector policies in Africa by providing professional analysis of energy policy, training, advisory services and policy advocacy for the efficient and transparent management of Africa’s energy resources.

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