Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ghana-Cote D’Ivoire maritime boundary suit to span 3-years

It could take up to 3-years to settle the Ghana-Cote D’Ivoire maritime border dispute that has existed for a long time.

Ghana is presently taking legal action to resolve the border dispute under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea after 10 bilateral meetings failed to resolve the issue.

The two countries have never officially agreed on the boundary and their maps of territorial waters overlap.  Ghana filed its suit based on Article 287 Annex VII of the 1982 UNCLOS.

Although the maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire has existed for a long time, it was reignited around 2010 -- the year Ghana started commercial production of oil.

In 2011, the Ivorian authorities -- at the time still under the leadership of former president Laurent Gbagbo -- published a map with a new order, claiming portions of Ghanaian oil blocks.

Seismic data from the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), the regulator of the country’s upstream petroleum sector, show that the disputed area covers portions of the Jubilee Field, Tweneboa, Enyenra, the Owo discoveries, West Tano-1X find and the deep-water Tano block, all found on the west coast of Ghana’s territorial waters. 

GNPC has already allocated some of those blocks to oil companies, including Tullow and Kosmos, to explore and develop for commercial oil production.

Both countries are claiming ownership of the territory, which energy experts say holds an estimated two billion barrels of oil reserves and 1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

According to officials of the GNPC, the claims of ownership of some the country’s oil fields by neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire do not have merit and will not disturb the country’s oil production in any way.

“I don't think we will lose. We are extremely confident about this case,” Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, Attoney General, told a news conference in Accra. 

The decision follows failed negotiations between the two countries in the past few years, as well as continued receipt of threatening letters from Cote d’Ivoire by oil companies operating in the disputed area.

In order to avoid a diplomatic spat, Ghana has since served Cote d’Ivoire with a notification of arbitration in accordance with the provisions of UNCLOS.  

Nevertheless, both countries have enjoyed cordial relations for a long time and are keen to solve the matter peacefully.

Special committee

National Coordinator of the Ghana Maritime Boundary Secretariat Kwame Fordjour Mfodwo, said the three-year legal proceedings at the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea will cost the country “a few million dollars. It will be reasonably expensive,” he stated.

The expenses that will be involved in the arbitration will be a minute fraction of the commercial benefits Ghana stands to gain from exploitation of oil within the area under litigation, he said.

A 30-member team of professionals will be in charge of the litigation, led by Justice Appiah-Oppong with other international maritime lawyers including Professor Philippe Sands QC and Martin Tsamenyi as part of the team.

Mr. Mfodwo disclosed that a group of cartographers will also be hired to draw the maritime boundaries.

“Ghana’s team is made up of the best Anglophone litigants on maritime issues. They have won cases for Bangladesh and Per,u and some were part of the ARA Libertad case involving Ghana and Argentina. 

“The Jubilee Field is safe from the litigation; it is the newly-discovered TEN Fields that are within the area under dispute,” Mr. Mfodwo remarked.

Possibly, the country could establish an extra eight billion barrels of petroleum reserves if it succeeds in getting its maritime boundaries extended.

Ghana seeks the extension of its continental shelf to about 15,000 kilometers beyond 200 nautical miles, where preliminary studies have shown the potential for at least eight billion barrels of petroleum reserves. Ghana is among 50 countries globally that have sought an expansion of their territorial waters.

In a statement, Ivory Coast said the dispute over the border area will not in any way undermine relations between the two countries, their people and the two presidents.

Lack of access to fertiliser hampering palm oil cultivation

Lack of access to fertilisers has been identified as a major factor hampering the cultivation of oil palm crop in the country, Dr. Thomas Fairhurst, an international field agronomist, has observed.

"Our take home is how to improve the fertiliser supply chain up to the farm gate. If Ghana invests in an improved fertiliser supply chain, it is going to improve all sectors including cocoa and other crop-growers and so on.

 "Fertiliser is the driver, and we know that when we study the soil analysis data we can see very clearly that the soil in the oil palm belt is deficient in some nutrients. So do not let anybody convince you that this can be done with organic farming.”

Dr. Fairhurst made this known at a Sustainable West Africa Palm-oil Programme (SWAPP) organised by Solidaridad, a not-for profit organisation that is interested in developing small- and medium-scale producers to be sustainable and profitable. 

The workshop was aimed at developing the oil palm sector -- a sector dominated by small-scale farmers -- to be more productive and profitable. 

It brought together various practitioners in the value chain ranging from agronomists to oil palm farmers to share success stories of the best management practice approaches in oil palm agronomy to increase productivity and sustainability.

Approximately 305,700 hectares of oil palm plantation is being cultivated nationwide, and an additional 20,000 hectares of farmland is needed to meet the local demand.

In 2010, oil palm processing groups projected a production output of 260,000 metric tonnes of palm oil, which indicates a deficit of 35,000 metric tonnes -- leaving government with no option but to spend US$100million annually on importation of oil palm to make up for the deficit.

An estimated unmet demand of oil palm in the ECOWAS sub-region is between 850,000 and 1,000,000 metric tonnes annually, a huge market the country can take advantage of if properly managed.

The country is said to have a total area of 305,758 hectors of oil palm. More than 80 percent of this is cultivated by private small-scale farmers who mostly use varieties of unimproved planting material.  This has contributed to the very low productivity in the Ghanaian oil palm industry.

The rising trend in international demand has been precipitated by increasing demand for palm oil in bio-fuel activities.

Crude Petroleum Price determinants continue to push upward pressure on the price, and demand for crude palm oil (CPO) is steadily rising in India, China, Europe and America for bio-fuel. In view of this development, investors have been diverting their investment portfolios into CPO.

AMSCO pledges to support African enterprises

The African Management Services Company (AMSCO) has pledged to support African enterprises in enhancing employee and management skills to improve efficiencies, increase productivity, impact leadership and good governance.

AMSCO also has sectorial training interventions focused on the sector in order to achieve greater skills development impact.  African governments and their economies are able to benefit from the multiplicity of social and economic benefits derived.

 “Capacity is delivered through a range of training progammes -- designed for individuals and for companies aimed at accelerating enterprise growth and profitability,” said AMSCO’s Regional Manager, West & Central Africa, Mohamed Ky, at a maiden breakfast meeting held in Accra in collaboration with the World Trade Centre-Accra.

The objective of the meeting was to collaborate in providing world standard services through the training of small and medium enterprises, management and local entrepreneurs by offering management placements, recruitment and capacity development to enhance productivity.

The meeting introduced AMSCO and the African Training and Management Services Project (ATMS), a regional project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to share experiences in using expert human resources in spurring the future growth of companies.

AMSCO, which administers the African Training and Management Services (ATMS) project, is a pioneer of capacity and skills development within the African SME sector.

Participants included major stakeholders of AMSCO – namely the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Africa Development Bank (AfDB).

Mr. Ky explained that AMSCO will continue to play a pivotal role in human capital development to achieve sustainable business development in Africa. 

“We play the game of capital development. We play a key role in facilitating our partners to have access to finance and skills.

“The private sector is going to be an engine of development in Africa.  We are active in many sectors including health, utilities and in all sectors of the economy. Africa is the new frontier in investment. The outcome we expect is that we want economic improvement.”

AMSCO’s strategy for the period 2011 to 2017 outlined a shift in focus toward the new business lines to achieve commercial sustainability for AMSCO in 2017, he said.

On capacity development, he said the their training implementation reaches 6,398 individuals from 391 companies through a wide range of client-specific and open programmes representing non-exclusive to AMSCO clients.

“While AMSCO’s traditional business activity of ‘management placements’ and capacity building of African business increased further over 2012 and ended with 466 managers in 283 businesses in 24 countries, its new business lines which included recruitment services as well as broader sector-based capacity development and technical assistance has begun to take shape -- both in form and substance -- under the Strategic Business Unit management.”

Ky stressed the need for increased collaboration and engagement to ensure that AMSCO can play the role of interface between global actors and local communities within the rapidly changing African dynamics.

“AMSCO’s mandate is to help African enterprises become globally competitive, profitable and sustainable by providing human capital and skill development services to African businesses, particularly SMEs,” he added.

He said the ATMS project has helped to reduce poverty, improve accountability and capacity development in Africa as well as helping to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Mr. Ky indicated that companies that want to partner with AMSCO must be able to fulfil a number of criteria which are available upon a request.

Mr. Emmanuel Doni-Kwame, Managing Director, World Trade Centre-Accra, expressed his outfit’s readiness to collaborate with AMSCO to help SMEs in the country thrive.