In July of 2016 the African Center for Energy Policy Ghana launched a campaign and series of regional forums to demand democratic, accountable governance of the energy sector. The resulting Manifesto was published before the national election to influence candidate platforms.
Problems and Purpose
While the constitution of the 4th Republic of Ghana guarantees the right to participation in development for citizens, decision making for national development policy in the energy sector remains limited to government and experts. Recent discoveries of oil and gas reserves in 2007 has also provided new opportunities to generate revenue for inclusive, participatory, and evenly distributed socioeconomic growth (ACEP, 2016). In 2017 the African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) began a campaign to democratize energy sector governance through direct-inclusive citizen engagement. They generated a national discussion and collected data using online questionnaires, community forums, and both new/traditional media outlets. The data gathered from this consultative approach towards social accountability culminated in the Citizens Agenda for Energy Sector Development also known as the Citizens Energy Manifesto released on July 18th 2016. The Manifesto is designed to make petroleum policy and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation accountable under direct engagement with citizens and their expectations (ACEP, 2016). It explicitly represents a “public expression” of priorities in the petroleum and energy sector that seeks to inform governing political parties, representing a new “social contract” in which holds elected governments accountable (ACEP, 2016). Following the Manifesto a monitoring body was implemented and a series of expert panel forums were held throughout Ghana to assess the response and promises made by political parties to integrate key demands.
Background History and Context
National resources and energy have long been considered a central component of post-colonial national developmentalism in Ghana. Yet despite large scale projects like Kwame Nkrumah’s famous Akosombo hydroelectric dam in 1960-65 and Jerry Rawlings construction of a connected national energy grid in the 1980-90s, there remains a lack of investment in infrastructure and democratic oversight (Kumah-Abiwu, 2017).
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The Manifesto campaign was financed, organized, and directed by the registered non-profit African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) with Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam (Executive Director, ACEP), Dr. Ishmael Ackah (Head of Policy, ACEP), and Dr. Jemima Nunoo ( ACEP Board Chairperson) taking lead organizational and public-outreach roles. The publication of the Citizens Energy Manifesto was completed by ACEP Ghana and supported by the Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth (GCGIG), Oxfam, and the Citizens Agenda for Energy Sector Development (Manifesto, 2016). Further support during the campaign was also received by various government bodies, NGOs, and civil society organizations such as the Ministry of Petroleum, the Ministry of Power, Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF), Ghana Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), Oil For Agriculture Friends of the Nation, and the Civil Society Coalition on Land.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Participants in the Manifesto movement generally were drawn from across Ghana, those concerned with national energy sector development policy, governance, and holding elected officials accountable. The online questionnaire, media and regional forum campaign was directed towards the Ghanaian public of a legal voting age. The contents of the Manifesto is also targeted towards the political parties and government, to influence a democratization of national energy sector development and increase accountability of the elected government to the people (Manifesto, 2016).
Methods and Tools Used
Numerous channels of engagement were used to write the manifesto including online surveys, organized regional forums (attended in-person, virtually, or live-streamed) and information dissemination through print, radio and television media. Social media also offered a source of public feedback with commentors using the hashtag #citizensenergymanifesto.
Deliberation, Decisions and Public Interaction
With Ghanaian elections approaching on December 7th 2016 the policy think tank ACEP Ghana began to organize a broad based campaign in June-July 2016 to democratize national energy sector development policy and hold politicians accountable. The official Facebook page and Twitter for the Citizens Energy Manifesto Project was launched on July 4th 2016, with the online Google Docs questionnaire posted publicly the following day July 5th 2016.
The process of developing the manifesto involved many Ghanaians. The centre launched an online platform, organized regional forums, and used print, radio, and television media to collate views of individuals. Social media based discussions used to both promote the campaign and spread awareness about national energy policy was a central component. The hashtag #citizensenergymanifesto became a focal point for online commentary and discussions among Ghanaians.
Hashtag twitter usages can be found at: https://twitter.com/hashtag/citizensenergymanifesto
On July 5th 2016 an online questionnaire was released by ACEP Ghana to collect data from Ghanaians. The survey utilized social media promotion and the Google Docs platform. The complete questionnaire can be found at:
The survey contains 17 semi-structured open questions which allowed for participant variety:
- Do you want Government to disclose oil contracts to the public?
- Which of these contractual information/data should the Government disclose to the public?
- In what way(s) do you want these contractual information/data to be disclosed to the public?
- Which options should Government pursue in allocation of oil blocks?
- How do you think the Petroleum Law can be used to fight corruption in Ghana?
- Should state owned companies and regulatory institutions in the oil and gas sector be insulated from political control?
- To what extent should Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) be insulated from political control?
- In your opinion, what should be the mandate of GNPC?
- In your opinion, what should be the Ownership Structure of GNPC?
- Are you aware that Government discloses information on Petroleum Revenues to the public?
- If yes, how do you access this information?
- If No, Why?
- In what way(s) would you prefer to be informed about our Petroleum Revenues?
- How do we ensure that we get the most out of Petroleum Revenue Expenditure?
- How do we ensure Fiscal discipline in Petroleum Revenue Expenditure?
- Kindly choose the most important sector (or area) you want the oil revenues to be spent.
- Kindly choose the three most important policies you want any political party to pursue in the Petroleum Sector.
Regional forums used to obtain sampled data from Ghanaian citizens took place in Accra, Tamale, Kintampo, Techiman, Kumasi, Cape Coast, and Akroma Takoradi between July 4th and July 15th 2016. The meetings and forums were used by ACEP Ghana to promote the campaign, hear the views of Ghanaians, and gather further data for the manifesto publication. The first meeting ACEP initiated was with the Peoples National Convention at their headquarters on July 5th 2016 in Accra to discuss the importance of creating a democratic energy manifesto based and to gain political support. The campaign then held regional forums in Accra, Cape Coast, Kintampo, and Techiman before the final forums held at Tamale on July 10-11, Kumasi on July 14, and the last regional Akroma Takoradi on July 15th 2016. These open public forums were well attended with participants seated and standing facing ACEP facilitators as evident by YouTube videos and Facebook pictures of the events (YouTube, 2016 and Facebook, 2016). These forums ranged in length from 2-4 hours, beginning with brief presentations by ACEP followed by open commentary, questions, and exchanges, with and between the audience (Facebook, 2016).
The popular TV3 Network Limited Ghana, a popular national television news station, was frequently used by ACEP to promote the Manifesto and a national conversation about democratizing the energy sector governance. Dr. Ackah is here appearing on July 24th 2016 (TV3, 2016). Dr. Ackah and Linda Ahunu were also frequently on Radio Universe 105.7 engaging citizens on the Citizens Energy Manifesto campaign and its objectives (ACEP Facebook, 2016). Not only was social media, local-national newspapers and radio used to promote the campaign but also public messages on ACEP transportation vehicles which were used to travel between interview, meeting, and forum locations (Facebook, 2017).
As a result of this inclusive and broad-based campaign to promote and attract participation in the formation of democratic energy sector governance consensus, executive director of ACEP officially presented and launched the Citizens Energy Manifesto on July 18th 2016. The official Manifesto Monitoring campaign was announced months later on October 25th 2016. Expert panel were then held at Alisa on October 26th 2016 to assess the feasibility of Manifesto promises made by political parties (ACEP Facebook, 2016). The New Patriotic Party (NPP) won the election on December 9th 2016 having adopted the central concerns of ACEP Ghana’s campaign and reflecting the insights of the Citizens Energy Manifesto.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The Manifesto was “welcomed by the political parties” formally on July 30 2016 (Adams, 2016). Importantly, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the People’s National Convention (PNC), and the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) all pledged to address the concerns of the Manifesto by integrating it within their respective party platforms for the election on December 7th 2016 (Kwofi, 2016). This is a major achievement of ACEP Ghana’s campaign as one of the central objectives was to influence and participate in national politics (Manifesto, 2016).
The complete “Citizens Energy Manifesto 2016” can be found in ACEP’s online archive:
The following are the key demands as quoted in the Manifesto summary:
- A robust petroleum law, which implements best governance and regulatory practices to fight corruption and rent-seeking behaviour in the oil and gas sector.
- Insulate management and operational decisions of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) from political control.
- Make the allocation of petroleum revenues to pro-poor investments the cornerstone of accelerated poverty reduction.
- Eliminate fiscal indiscipline in the management of petroleum and non-petroleum revenues.
- Stabilise the power subsector by increasing electricity generation capacity and expanding the transmission and distribution network.
- Introduce a programme for addressing the financial crisis in the power sector on a sustainable basis.
- Restructure state-owned power distribution companies (the Electricity Company of Ghana and Northern Electricity Distribution Company) to make them technically and operationally efficient.
Following the announcement that political parties were adopting the Manifesto, ACEP initiated a monitoring body to hold official accountable as well as organized a series of public panels where ACEP experts presented research on the feasibility and accountability of implemented their collective demands. Dr. Amin in one such panel on October 26th 2016 noted that “Our analysis of the issues addressed by the parties and the policies and programmes they presented to Ghanaians shows that there is significant level of consensus among our parties on how they intend to address the challenges of the energy and petroleum sector. For example, out of a total of 28 policies and programmes proposed for the oil and gas sector, the parties have consensus on more than 10 policies. Similarly, of a total of 27 power sector policies and programmes, the parties agree on about 14 of the policies.” (Amin, 2016).
Key policy difference between the Manifesto and the varying national political parties as described by the ACEP executive director:
- “The parties agree to create an enabling environment to attract investments to the oil and gas sector. How they will do this, they differ.
- They agree to increase local content participation and value addition. How they will do this they differ.
- They agree to fight corruption and rent seeking behavior. They differ on how to do this.
- They also agree to invest our oil money in pro-poor development. But they disagree on the choice of the priority sectors.
- They agree to improve on transparency in the management of oil and gas resources. But again, they have different approaches” (Amin, 2016).
Despite the differences in how to achieve the recommendations of the Manifesto, it is important to acknowledge the ways in which the official national political discourse shifted to engage directly with the Manifesto, promoting increased inclusivity and accountability. This focus on the energy sector reflects a widespread belief that energy is the “fuel for the engine of economic growth and accelerated development” and requires government officials and institutions to be held accountable (ACEP, 2016). The NPP led by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo won the election on December 9th 2016. Importantly the NPP manifesto adopted energy as the second most important issue after the economy and trade, reaffirming the government commitment to the “creative exploitation of human and natural resources...operating within an open and fair democratic society” (NPP, 2016).
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The effectiveness of ACEP’s campaign and the manifesto has revealed that there is a centrality of concerns across the national political parties about the importance of democratically reforming national energy sector development policy to better reflect the engagement and hopes of citizens. Despite differences in how to achieve objectives, significant national enthusiasm and debate was generated by the Manifesto campaign and its publication within a short period of time (Adams, 2016). The further effectiveness of the Citizens Energy Manifesto depends however not only on how political parties integrate the objectives into party platforms, but in how citizens will remain active in monitoring and participating in regional consultations, panels, and discussions regarding effective implementation and democratic oversight. There must continue to be active inclusive citizen participation to enforce the Citizens Energy Manifesto and to hold elected parties accountable to the ‘will of the people’ (Amin, 2016).
Commentaries and Criticism
The Manifesto campaign process according to the Executive Director of ACEP served as an important foundation for a social contract between citizens and political parties, promoting in practice the characteristic of a “peoples democracy” (Manifesto, 2017). Dr. Amin explains further in the opening remarks of the Manifesto that this campaign:
“intends to reverse the process where political parties share their manifestos so late in the campaign period and citizens have limited time to digest, seek clarity and be informed by those promises; to a process where citizens inform political parties manifesto with their own expectations. We are by this giving meaning to the principle of bottom-up decision making in which national policies reflect the true aspirations of the citizens. This is what we call the ‘peoples’ democracy” (Manifesto, 2016).
Given the recognition of the Citizens Energy Manifesto by national political parties, many news media outlets and commentators have commended the efforts of ACEP, affirming Dr. Amin.
However there are significant criticisms of ACEP’s campaign and the Citizens Energy Manifesto. Firstly, since ACEP tried to accomplish everything within the span of two months June-July of 2016, the data collection from regional forums, the online questionnaire, and media discussion participations are invariably incomplete and lack significant citizen participation. More locations throughout Eastern and Northern Ghana should have been included within the scope of the regional forums. Furthermore, these regional forums were still being conducted as late as of July 15th 2016, three days prior to the publication of the official Citizens Energy Manifesto on July 18th 2016. Full participation numbers are not known but it can be hypothesized that by having more time spent on data collection and by travelling to more regions in Ghana, that the campaign and manifesto would become more inclusive and reflective of the participation of more individuals. Youth participation also was not targeted, and there was a noticeable underrepresentation of women in the regional forums (Facebook, 2017).
Social Media (tool)
The Ghanaian Women’s Manifesto Movement (case)
Adams, Kodjo. “Political parties welcome Citizens Energy Manifesto.” Ghana News Agency (July 20th 2016).
Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP). “Citizens Energy Manifesto 2016: Citizens Agenda for Energy Sector Development in Ghana.” (WGCBC, 2016).
Ama Osei-Tutu, Joanna. “Managing Expectations and Tensions in Ghana’s Oil-Rich Western Region.” SAIIA: Policy Briefing 55 (August 2012).
Amin, Mohammed. “Dr. Amin's Address at Expert Panel on Energy Sector Manifestos of Political Parties.” ACEPGHANA http://www.acepghana.com/news/316/ (October 2016).
Asafu-Adjaye, John. Harnessing Ghana’s oil and gas revenues for sustainable development (Accra: The Institute of Economic Affairs, 2009).
Asumadu-Sarkodie, Samuel and Phebe Asantewaa Owusu. “A review of Ghana’s energy sector national energy statistics and policy framework.” Cogent Engineering 3(1) (2016).
Esi Eshun, Maame and Joe Amoako-Tuffour. “A review of the trends in Ghana’s power sector.” Energy, Sustainability, and Society 6(9) (April 2016).
Graham, Emmanuel, Ishmael Ackah and Ransford EdwardVan Gyampo. “Politics of Oil and Gas in Ghana.” Insight on Africa 8(2) (June 26th 2016).
Kumah-Abiwu, Felix. “Democratic Institutions, Natural Resource Governance, and Ghana’s Oil Wealth.” Soc. Sci. 6(1) (2017): doi:10.3390/socsci6010021
Kwofi, Maclean. “Five parties to adopt ACEP’s study into manifestos,” Graphic Online (July 28 2016).
ACEP data collection questionnaire for the Citizens Energy Manifesto 2016: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSddLLV1j3SPd7Vca1XhgbPNzTe7CPPTD1xIXAnnAzE6GyubLw/viewform
Africa Centre for Energy Policy Reports: http://www.acepghana.com/reports/
Citizens Energy Manifesto Project: https://www.facebook.com/CitizensEnergyManifesto/
Dr. Ackah on Energy Sector Development as appeared on TV3 July 24th 2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRAg7TzcCAE&feature=share&list=PL5ueoOnxldrwHP2is3wSPm3mkXSzJsZZh&index=9
Dr. Amin Monitoring Expert Panel Speech: http://www.acepghana.com/news/316/
New Patriotic Party (NPP) 2016 Manifesto: http://www.codeoghana.org/assets/downloadables/npp_2016_manifesto.compressed.pdf
Twitter @ACEPGhana https://twitter.com/acepghana?lang=en
Twitter Hashtag #citizensenergymanifesto https://twitter.com/hashtag/citizensenergymanifesto
Lead image: Citizen's Energy Manifesto Project | Facebook https://goo.gl/aVWicB
Secondary image: Citizen's Energy Manifesto Project | Facebook https://goo.gl/1XS3nG