Monday, September 13, 2010

Ghana's oil and the MDGs: an alternative view

A site called has an interested set of calculations related to Ghana, an emerging oil producer, and an alternative approach to tackling poverty. This post, entitled Just one oil field could make poverty history in Ghana is an issue we've blogged before, on a topic where TJN does not have an established position (in fact it is quite controversial inside TJN), but which is certainly of some interest to us. The blog summarises the point succinctly:

"Distributing the government’s expected take from the Jubilee field, due to come online in December 2010, could virtually abolish adult poverty across the country in the space of six months. How about that for a political platform?"

The calculation looks at World Bank poverty data and concludes that a distribution of $160 per Ghanaian beneath the poverty line should do the trick. It throws in a reasonable $70/barrel assumed oil price, and a few other assumptions, to conclude that what's needed is:

"122,600 barrels of oil a day, almost exactly what the Jubilee Field is scheduled to produce!"

It admits there all sorts of assumptions and guesses in there to reach this result, but it's not an unreasonable number to come up with.

The proposal of direct distribution is casually dismissed by many as unworkable, or as some sort of right wing plot to cut back big government, whereas in fact it is nothing of the sort. Among other things, it would involve the most radical possible redistribution from rich to poor imaginable.

(To repeat: this reflects this blogger's personal view, and does not represent the views of TJN. Whatever one's views on this general proposal, it is surely a subject worthy of debate.)


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