Obrempong writes on US: Million miles away, but dreadfully nearby!

President Donald Trump lives million miles away in the land of liberties, but a single decision his administration is about finalizing will switch off the lights shining on corruption in Ghana’s extractive sector! Dark days are close by!

The Republican led US Congress have voted to overturn a historic transparency law; the Dodd-Frank Law passed by the Obama administration in July 2010 to stop international oil companies or mining companies in general [including those in Ghana] from signing corrupt deals with foreign (in this case our local) governments.

The Dodd-Frank Law and the Securities and Exchange Commission required these International companies with their roots in the US to publish payments in cash or kind made to the [Ghana] government which is up to $100,000 or above, for the public to see what the deal is about. The advantage here is that, it provides citizens the opportunity to scrutinize what their governments are signing on to.

It is for this law that the [Ghana] Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative was adopted and implemented. Since its implementation, big mining firms in Ghana such as Newmont Gold Ghana Limited, Anglogold, Chirano Gold Mines and many others have been publishing their payments around their business.

In fact, it is on the back of same that civil society organizations in Ghana such as the Africa Center for Energy Policy (ACEP), the Integrated Social Development Center ISODEC, Oxfam Ghana, Friends of the Nation FON and STAR Ghana etc. fought for the adoption of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee PIAC and to have it instituted in the 2011 Petroleum Revenue Management Act 815. [893 as amended] It is for this same provision that journalist in Ghana could probe government officials when company’s in the extractive’s figures on their operations does not reconcile with the government. Being a journalist myself, I have had the opportunity to decipher some of these reports for my audience.

With the vote to overturn the Dodd-Frank Act, which served as a fountain of relief flowing from the US through many countries particularly in Africa, corrupt leaders and their counterpart in western world have been handed the key to lock transparency in the abyss.

The global light illuminating from the powerhouse of the world to expose corruption in the extractives is switched off! I am believing Mr. Trump that he has a better replacement, a surprise package for the transparency fraternity, if not, he has handed a weapon of mass destruction to “toddlers” in Africa!
Anyway! But this calls for a new dawn in Africa. It is about time the Africa Union rise up to the occasion. The Dodd-Frank Act came from the US.

It is about time citizens of Africa also calls on the Africa Union to reproduce regulations like the Dodd Frank Act and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Act for Africa to regulate local and international companies who want to do business so as to fight corruption in Ghana and the rest of the African continent. Liberate your name African Union!
While we wait on the Africa Union and perhaps Mr. Trump’s surprise, I wish the companies who have been disclosing payments to the Ghana government and African governments at large to continue disclosing. They can do the mathematics to see if they have had to lose anything because they published what they paid. Let me humbly remind you all that, if for nothing at all, you have won the social trust from communities where you have your factories.

Oh Mr. Trump! How I wish you reversed this decision for that poor African child to hold on to his dream! You are million miles away, but this decision is dreadfully nearby! Hmm, may the will of God be!

By: Obrempong Yaw Ampofo

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