ExxonMobil Office Opening Event and Reception
Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan
Thursday, June 27, 2019, 4:00-7:00 p.m.
Honorable Minister of Finance Ofori-Atta,
Honorable Deputy Minister of Energy Amin-Adam,
ExxonMobil Vice President Pam Darwin,
ExxonMobil Country Manager Randi Cruz,
CEOs and Executives of Ghana’s Oil and Gas Industry,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All protocols observed:
It’s my great pleasure to participate in today’s celebration and to officially extend ExxonMobil a big “Akwaaba” to Ghana. Today we celebrate not only the outdooring of an office, but also, more broadly, the partnership between American companies and Ghana. Indeed, ExxonMobil’s decision to open an office in Accra is a positive sign.
ExxonMobil is joining over 100 U.S. businesses that are currently operating here in Ghana providing jobs, transferring skills, and adding value to the economy. Today we celebrate the planting of a seed of confidence in Ghana’s offshore oil and gas sector. Ayekoo! And, as supporters of ExxonMobil’s decision, we in government and the private sector must ask, what can we do to help this relationship blossom?
I may not be a botanist or a florist, but we all know there are three things every newly planted seed will need: the right soil, enough sunlight, and the proper amount of water. In this case, we mean the best soil for the business climate, the sunlight of transparency and open communication, and the right amount of watering in expectations. So just as plantings in a garden should be given sufficient time to mature, we must continue to nurture a healthy foundation. A healthy soil that is neither too loose nor overly restrictive is conducive to foreign direct investment, especially when policies and practices align.
I would like to applaud the steps the Government of Ghana has taken to date to improve the ease of doing business. And I would like to encourage the government to continue with those reforms to ensure that the right business environment, or soil for growth, is in place. Of course, every seed also needs the proper amount of sunlight to provide clarity and to give the new seed a direction in which to grow.
This sunlight takes the form of transparency and open communication around the vision and direction of the sector. Consistent and reliable dialogue gives investors the confidence to continue, knowing that their concerns are heard and respected. In this vein, I commend the Government of Ghana for rolling out its National Petroleum Registry and initiating its inaugural public bid round– two great initiatives that are building more transparency and predictability into the system. And as these initiatives grow, international and local businesses will thrive and contribute more to Ghana’s growth.
Last but not least, we must make sure to water this investment with the appropriate amount of expectation. A common mistake when growing a new seed, is that everyone wants the plant to hurry up and grow, so they water it and water it, eventually stifling the plant’s growth. I have literally done this myself! Instead, I encourage all of us here today to manage the amount of water or expectations we are placing on this very young seed.
Like the heart-shaped adinkra symbol “Akoma,” I am wearing today, both growing plants and developing the economy take patience and endurance. Yes, large industry leaders like ExxonMobil play a major role, but they cannot do it all, and they cannot do it alone.
In closing, Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to emphasize that today is worthy of celebration. Today is one step forward toward the vision that Ghana and the United States share – a Ghana where investment-led growth builds the country’s capacity and drives sustainable economic and social development without relying over the long-term on development partners. Together, let’s keep working toward a Ghana that is strengthened through its trade and investment partnerships with American companies.
Congratulations, once again, to ExxonMobil on the official inauguration of your Ghana office. We will support you as we watch the seed you’ve planted grow.