Penplusbytes, a not-for-profit organization in collaboration with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), has rolled out a new capacity building project to train more journalists to effectively help manage the oil and gas sector in the Sub-region.
The first batch of journalists, under the two-year cross-country project, would be trained in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire this November and December.
The project dubbed: "Drilling Down Oil and Gas in West Africa", is expected to enable the sub-regional journalists, to effectively monitor and bring to the fore, key issues about the legal regimes for revenue utilization, local content and resource governance.
They would also monitor and check inter-country disputes confronting the sub-region oil industry, as well as the impact of the sector on the lives of citizens in West Africa.
Through the training, capacities of the journalists would be sharpen to play an effective oversight role over the extractive sector, and generate policy briefs to influence governments as well as statements and alerts that inform the media, citizens and civil society and move them to action.
Commenting on the importance of the project, Ms Juliet Amoah, Executive Director of Penplusbytes, emphasized the importance of the sector to many economies, stating that the sector had become the backbone of many economies of the world, and so the media's role in helping monitor the sector had become more essential.
She said when the sector is managed properly, it could become a major backbone of the economies of countries in the region, including Ghana.
"It is therefore, imperative to constantly sharpen and sustain the interests of the media, who are the fourth estate of the realm, to exercise their oversight role so as to ensure accountability in the sector".
Ms Amoah explained that the project had been born out of many years of undertaking multi-country training by Penplusbytes and it was expected to further deepen the organisation's work in the extractive sector in undertaking evidence based research to improve resource governance.
She expressed her delight that after Penplusbytes' oil and gas project in Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Liberia, the organization was able to add Cote d'Ivoire to its oil and gas programming areas.
The "Drilling Down Oil and Gas in West Africa" project is situated within the framework of enabling better economic governance as a whole and natural resources management while promoting independent journalism in West Africa.
Part of the project intervention is to contribute to efforts by the media and civil society actors to ensure that ordinary citizens benefit from oil and gas revenues in the sub-region.
Under the project, Penplusbytes, known as a leader in enhancing the capacity of journalists in various thematic areas including oil and gas, ever since Ghana found oil in commercial quantities, would work with the media to ensure that citizen's voices are strongly represented and impact the way that the sector was governed across the sub region, using Ghana and Cote D'Ivoire as case studies.