The possession on natural resource wealth has in most cases has turn out to be a curse rather than a blessing to many countries that Possesses them. The discovery of oil and gas resources in Ghana has brought to the fore debates about how best to manage it to the benefit of the citizens. Transparency and accountability has been identified as key to prudent resource governance not only in the case of Ghana but globally. At the heart of transparency and accountability however is the availability of information to the citizens which can enable them to monitor the behaviour of governments.
This study examined how the actual implementation of transparency and accountability initiatives is impacted by people’s access to information. Specifically, it investigated how people access information, their capacities and willingness to process the information in order to hold government to account. The study was conducted using qualitative methods in Cape Three point, a community close to Ghana’s Jubilee oil fields.
The study revealed that making information available is not enough to achieve transparency and accountability. Rather, achieving Transparency and Accountability is dependent on people’s information access mechanisms, level of education, livelihoods, interests and infrastructure. It was found out that within the Cape Three Point community, the people had little knowledge about the oil revenues even though the government and the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) have made some information available to the public. The people were also less willing to demand accountability even though they were interested in knowing about the oil revenue flows. One important implication of this study is that when government or transparency initiatives make information public, in reality it does not necessary mean the people have received it or been able to construct knowledge or make decisions based on it.
The study recommends among other things that transparency initiatives must be context dependent and be based on an analysis of people’s information needs, proper channels of communication and strengthening people’s capacity to demand accountability.
Key Words: Transparency, Accountability, Oil revenues, Access, Capacity