Under a STAR-Ghana supported project titled “Assessing the Socio-Economic Impact of Gas
Commercialization in Ghana and Positioning Ghanaians to Take Advantage of Emerging Opportunities in a Sustainable Manner’’, KITE organized a multi stakeholder workshop in the Accra on 20th March ,2014. The purpose of the workshop was to share preliminary findings emerging from the project and gather valuable feedback from participants on how Ghana can enhance the capacity of her citizenry to take full advantage of the potential economic benefits while at the same time minimizing likely environmental impacts associated with the project.
The meeting brought together members of the Trade, Industry and Tourism and the Environment,
Science, Technology and Innovation select committees of Parliament, and representatives from the Public/Civil Services, NGOs/CBOs, private sector, and Media to deliberate on important findings from the Gas Commercialization Project.
The workshop saw two main presentations being made. The first focused on the project Overview and the second focused on the project’s preliminary findings. Both presentations were delivered by Mr.
Ishmael Edjekumhene, Executive Director of KITE.
His presentation covered the rationale of the project undertaken by KITE, its overall goal, and specific objectives. He also touched on the project areas, timeline and key partners, citing
STAR Ghana as the sponsors of the project. He said even though the project was specifically being implemented in the Ellembelle district of the Western Region, it is believed that the findings will have national implications for which reason the stakeholder meeting was being held.
In presenting the preliminary findings, Mr. Edjekumhene noted that the findings included feedback from the sensitization campaign that was carried out as part of the project. The presentation included an overview of the Gas Infrastructure Project, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Process in
Ghana, a Summary of the Key Findings, and Key Recommendations.
Participants were informed that in line with the Environmental Impact Assessment Process in Ghana, a local consultant, SAL Consult, was engaged to prepare the Environmental Impact Statement for the Gas Commercialization Project. KITE’s approach to undertaking the study included extensive review of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the processes that went into its development. Two informational materials, including an abridged version of the EIS report as well as a report on the
Economic Opportunities created by the Gas Commercialisation Project were developed. Sensitization campaigns in targeted communities using brochures and flexi banners were also embarked upon.
Focusing on the key findings on the EIS, Mr. Edjekumhene revealed that site clearing began before a permit was issued and that the project started before the EIA was completed. This he said was inconsistent with international acceptable best practice for a project of a scale as the Gas Commercialisation Project.
The presentation also highlighted findings as told by community members from the project areas. It showed that community members had issues with the level of awareness and access to information on the project, the payment of compensations, environmental pollution, and livelihood and employment.
Another major finding presented to participants was the high expectations of community members and the nation as a whole on the impacts of the Gas Commercialisation Project. As a major issue of recommendation, Mr. Edjekumhene noted that people would have to be made to understand that gas will not be cheaper and be in abundance resulting in power rationing being a thing of the past once gas processing begins.
Mr. Edjekumhene ended his presentation by making the following recommendations based on findings:
· There is the need to pay more attention to the EIA process for future projects
· There is the need to be more realistic about the expected benefits of projects of this nature
· Payment of outstanding capitalization to the Ghana Natural Gas Company to enable it pay outstanding compensation
· Institution of a special programme to cater for the needs of the ‘real’ SMEs so they can take advantage of what is happening in their communities.