Oil flows in Ghana, is the resource curse soon to follow?

Michael Giberson

TAKORADI, Ghana — The impoverished West African nation of Ghana become the world’s newest oil producer Wednesday, pumping crude for the first time from an offshore field worth billions of dollars in the Gulf of Guinea.

President John Atta Mills turned the oil valves Wednesday during in an inaugural ceremony broadcast live from a storage vessel off Ghana’s Atlantic Ocean coast.

…  “After a long wait, the day has finally come,” Mills said. “This demands hard work for those of us in leadership positions to ensure that the oil becomes a blessing and not a curse.”

Already rich in gold and cocoa, Ghana is one of the most stable countries in Africa, but many of its 23 million people struggle to survive.

Analysts and aid groups warn the country has yet to pass crucial legislation to safeguard the oil windfall and avoid what is known in Africa as the “resource curse.” In places like Congo and Nigeria, oil or mineral wealth has fueled conflict instead of boosting desperately needed development.

Oil revenues are expected to bring in around a billion dollars annually for the next few years, and those figures are likely to rise.

From an Associated Press story via the Houston Chronicle.

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