Advocacy coalition approach to policymaking - A study of the civil society's contribution to Ghana's oil industry
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This study examines the civil society’s contribution to policymaking in Ghana’s oil industry. To achieve this objective, the study draws from the activism of a civil society venture called Civil Society Platform for Oil and Gas (CSPOG). As a non-governmental organization, the CSPOG was established as an umbrella organization with the aim to articulate citizens’ demands and promote the state’s responsiveness, transparency and accountability in the governance of Ghana’s oil resource. The study draws from qualitative interviews from officials and members of the organization to ascertain and understand their contribution to oil policies in the country. In the conceptual framework for analysis, concepts like the civil society and policymaking are enunciated to grasp the role of the civil society in policymaking. In addition, the Advocacy Coalition Framework(ACF) is adopted as the theoretical lens through which the civil society’s contribution to oil policy is understood in the study context. The study findings indicate that, towards achievement of the goal to prevent recurrence of past mismanagement of natural resources like gold in Ghana, the CSPOG has sought to get involved in issues of governance about the oil resource. In doing this, the organization has targeted the policy arena as a major area where they seek to influence and contribute to policies and legal frameworks governing the industry. Their activism towards policymaking within Ghana’s oil industry cover all the stages of the policy cycle, from the early stage of identifying and formulating policies and legal frameworks, to monitoring their implementation. In the objective to unravel their contribution to the early stage of policy, the study reveals that the CSPOG employ the strategy of education, through persuasion and collaboration with policy makers to set agendas and contribute to policy formulation and adoption. This is achieved with tools such as research reports, policy briefs, proposals and lobbying of policy makers. Their achievement in oil policy contribution is manifested in the successful addition of important clauses to operational policies like the Petroleum Revenue Management(PRM) Act; Petroleum Exploration and Production(E&P) Act; and the Local Content and Local Participation Policy about utilization of Ghana’s oil resource. Analytically, the study brings evidence to buttress the notion of the civil society as an important realm which contributes to development of the contemporary democratic state. In the study context, the institutions’ vibrancy and activism is faced with challenges related to resources (financial and information), as well as excessive politicization. Such problems among others, reflect in many developing democracies where the state and its institutions continue to fashion out ways to incorporate the civil society into its socio-political and economic fabric. Nevertheless, as shown in the study, civil society organizations, regardless existing challenges remain important development partners, with their work stretching far beyond policy input in Ghana’s oil industry. Therefore, it is essential that they remain encouraged by their achievements and continue to advance their role as an avenue for citizens’ participation in state affairs.