Monday, January 23, 2012
Ghana Oil Reporters Take Stock, with Cameroon on Their Minds
Participants began by appraising their professional growth as industry specialists. Lorrencia Adam, a reporter with Choice FM in Accra, was candid while reflecting on the support she received from facilitator Nicholas Phythian, a former Reuters news agency journalist. "Sometimes he sounds brutal," said Adam in describing her learning journey while taking advice from Phythian, who is now a trainer withThomson Reuters Foundation, RWI's international media training partner.
"He got me to rewrite one of my scripts three times and he cancelled all of them," Adam said. "But I kept working on them and I appreciated his help." The results of the process are reflected in Adam's recent reporting from Cameroon.
This workshop comes on the heels of a field trip the reporters took to Cameroon in December. Cameroon is shifting greater attention to minerals such as nickel, cobalt, iron and bauxite, because of declining oil reserves. The trip was an opportunity for the reporters to compare experiences and to sharpen their perspectives on the issues affecting Ghana. Kwami Ahiabenu, the journalists' mentor on the study tour, is based in Accra at Penplusbytes, RWI's local media training partner.
During the Cameroon trip, the Ghanaians met with journalists, civil society activists, company executives and government officials in Doula the commercial capital, in the coastal district of Kribi, and in Yaoundé the political capital.
They also toured the Logbaba gas plant owned by Rodeo Development Ltd, a subsidiary ofVictoria Oil and Gas, in which the Cameroonian government has a five per cent stake through its national oil company. The Logaba visit was a chance to learn about the trade-offs between natural gas production and the use of heavy fuel to generate electricity. While natural gas is the cheaper, more environmentally friendly choice, the plant is located in a densely populated area, which poses potentially serious threats to people and property in case of a plant accident. Jonathan Scott-Barrett, the managing director of Rodeo Development, told the reporters that the company had begun to relocate the people living near the plant, but he said government bureaucracy had slowed down the process.
Such visits are not always easy. Trainee Pascal Kudiabor of Ghana Business News said that one major challenge to covering Ghana's oil sector is the limited opportunity to observe offshore exploration on the Jubilee rig. Regulations require every visitor to the rig to undergo safety training and certification. The Regional Maritime University in Ghana provides such training, but at a cost.
RWI's next media training is scheduled for 30 January to 8 February in Kampala, Uganda, and is organized by the African Centre for Media Excellence.
International Institute for ICT Journalism