Ghana’s massive oil fields attract valuable flows of FDI
In March, Ghana's parliament finally passed the much-anticipated Oil Revenue Management Bill that will determine how the government manages and invests substantial energy revenues to secure the country's future for generations to come.
The new legislation, which was backed unanimously by MPs, will provide Ghana with the opportunity to secure loans from foreign banks and financial institutions against future oil revenues. The discovery of the two giant oil fields has led to the rapid expansion of Ghana's upstream, midstream and downstream oil and gas industry.
The present and future development of the petroleum products sector would not be possible without proper government legislation or major foreign direct investment (FDI) from China and developed countries around the world.
Since the discovery of the Jubilee Field in 2007, the Ghanaian government and Chinese enterprises have signed a series of loan agreements and major infrastructure development deals worth more than $ 20 bn.
Founded in 1999, Cirrus Oil Services is a private downstream oil trading company and a leader in petroleum product trading and distribution. Granted a license in 2007 to operate as a bulk oil distributor, Cirrus built and commissioned the country's most advanced petroleum terminals at Tema and Takoradi.
The computerized facilities can handle tens of thousands of litres of petroleum products per day, including gas oil, gasoline and aviation fuel, with the valuable liquids destined for domestic and foreign markets.
"At Cirrus, safety is our life line and a commitment for life," said CEO Ivy Apea Owusu.
"We run terminals and deal with a lot of products. In this industry, health and safety, as well as environmental concerns are huge. It is part of our culture, as is professionalism."
Turning to the importance of Ghana's skilled human resources, she added: "When we view human capital, we look at the individual not just based on resumes but whether they have the same mindset and will be a cultural fit at Cirrus -- it's the little things that count.
"Ghana is socially and politically stable. Ghanaians are constantly developing and learning and so our human capital is growing. In the past, there was a brain drain but lots of foreign-trained Ghanaians are now coming back home."
Black gold fuels FDI
An experienced businesswoman and oil industry professional, Apea Owusu has identified many of the challenges facing Ghana as the country looks to develop and improve its industrial, social and commercial infrastructure like transport and communications networks.
"With the right commitment and the partnership with the private sector, there is a lot that could be achieved," she said. "We are working on an expansion project that will leave us well positioned to meet growing market demand in a safe and efficient manner. We sell Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in Ghana through the Tema refinery, but an important part of our expansion plan is to have our own LPG facility."
An industry leader, Sage Petroleum is a pioneering petroleum products company with a vertically integrated network of inland, coastal and offshore oil operations, plus activities in other countries. Headed by CEO Emmanuel Egyei-Mensah, Sage has grown rapidly as it looks to become Africa's leading energy services provider with the help of foreign investors. The firm recently held talks with Chinese companies about the formation of joint partnerships and knowledge-transfer programs.
"We are trying to diversify and are looking for partnerships and joint ventures," explained Egyei-Mensah. "We also plan to enter the offshore services sector and want investors who are prepared to transfer technology and skills."
Tourism takes off
Like the majority of the many diverse sectors that now comprise Ghana's economy, the tourism industry has enjoyed robust growth in recent years, with the government committed to preserving the extremely broad range of natural, cultural and historical attractions.
With more than 500 km of gorgeous coastline, Ghana's beautiful beaches are one of its most popular natural assets, while many of its attractive forts and castles have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.
In addition to heritage and beach tourism, Ghana offers visitors rare ecological treasures in large and unspoiled tropical rainforests teeming with birds and rare wildlife, while game parks are complemented by sparkling lakes.
A private, award-winning, boutique-style hotel, The African Regent is popular with oil industry executives and tourists. Located in Accra's most prestigious neighbourhood, the luxury hotel is close to the city's international airport, major highway and shopping mall.
The hotel blends more than 100 comfortable and well-equipped rooms, including a presidential suite, executive club suite and penthouse, with world-class service and premium cuisine and beverages.
"We have noticed an increase in Chinese groups staying at The African Regent and even hired a Chinese speaking staff member to help us communicate with these guests," said hotel CEO, John Kufuor.