Oil’s importance in the global economy cannot be overlooked. Gas, diesel and petrol, which are by-products of oil, fuel transportation globally, and allow for the free movement of goods and people. Revenue from oil is also used by governments to develop their countries in terms of infrastructure and economic growth. Due to this and many other advantages associated with the oil, its discovery in many parts of the world has come with a lot of hope and expectations.
Ghana joined the league of oil producing nations when it discovered commercial quantities of oil off the coast of Cape Three Points in 2007. Whiles oil production is expected to have positive effect on the national economy, its impact on the communities adjoining the Jubilee field should not be underestimated. Communities which live close to Ghana’s oil field have a wide range of expectations which they look forward to the government and oil companies to fulfill. The study aims at critically examining the perceptions and expectations of three communities in Ghana’s oil discovery. The communities are Cape Three Points, Dixcove and Shama. It also aims at exploring the various mechanisms through which these expectations are likely to be realized.
To digest these issues comprehensively, I use the concepts of sustainable livelihoods (Ellis 2000) and the concept of the resource curse (Auty 1993, Collier 2007). Under sustainable livelihoods, I adopt the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework as an analytical tool to broadly show the impact that oil has on local livelihoods. Thus, the relationship between assets available to local fishermen and how this impacts on their livelihoods is addressed. I also use it to explain the vulnerabilities that oil presents to local communities, and the various strategies they have adopted to cope with that. The resource curse concept is used to describe the relationship between oil and economic growth and the impact of oil on national development.
At the end of the study, it was found that that perceptions form an important part of local expectations. A list of expectations across all three show essentially the same list of what local people expect from oil companies and the government. Moreover, effective mgt of expectations is key to attempting to cure the resource curse disease. When local people are educated about the real and impacts of the oil on their livelihoods, their expectations are bound to remain realistic, and hence they may not resort to violence and conflicts when their perceived expectations are not met.