Why Did President Obama Choose Ghana as His Africa Destination?

The press has barely been able to contain their excitement over President Obama's trip to Africa. Their glee is understandable. America's first black president is returning to the land in which his ancestors were born. The story is beautiful -- poetic, really. But what few people are asking is, "Why Ghana?"

One of the few news sources to pose this question, Democracy Now, proposed the answer may have something to do with the recent discovery of oil in Ghana. A quarter of US oil imports are expected to come from West Africa by 2015, according to estimates by the National Intelligence Council. That could explain why Obama chose Ghana over, say, his father's homeland of Kenya.

Perhaps aware of the "oil" question, the White House was quick to announce that Ghana was selected as Obama's destination because the African country is a "trusted partner" and praised its sound governance and lasting development. Kwesi Pratt, editor of The Insight, a newspaper based in Accra, Ghana, doesn't buy that excuse.

The official reason has been given of Ghana's fledgling democracy, that the United States of America has a lot of confidence in Ghana's fledgling democracy. But all of us know that the main interest is oil. If you read the Cheney report, the Cheney report states very clearly that by 2015 American oil imports will move from 11% to 25%. The Cheney report also makes a recommendation for the establishment of military bases in order to protect American interests and American oil. For me these are the two key reasons why the United States and Obama are interested in this. It has nothing to do with democracy, but the preservation of American interests.

Pratt is referring to former Vice-President Dick Cheney's role in the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG), a task force of senior government representatives charged with developing a long-range plan to meet U.S. energy requirements. Former President Bush chose Cheney to head NEPDG, and one of Dick's main goals was to minimize the United States' dependency on oil from the Persian Gulf. Of course, NEPDG didn't want to supplement oil for "green energy." The group just wanted to find oil somewhere else, and "somewhere" included non-gulf areas, including the Caspian Sea basin, the West Coast of Africa, and Latin America.

Ghana is located near the Africa west coast. "West Africa is expected to be one of the fastest-growing sources of oil and gas for the American market," the Cheney report observed with almost tangible, gluttonous glee. At the time, the report focused on Nigeria, Guinea, and Angola because Dick Cheney and George W. Bush had no idea Ghana had a massive oil reserve just off her coast.

Then in 2007, the UK firm Tullow Oil announced the discovery of 600 million barrels of light oil offshore from Ghana. Reporter Njei Moses Timah stated the obvious, "China and the United States are not going to fold their arms and allow Ghana to quietly enjoy the proceeds of the over $40 billion worth of oil (less exploration and production costs) that has been discovered."

"U.S. President Barack Obama's trip to Ghana on July 10th-11th is a subtle White House oil strategy to secure another source of energy on the continent of Africa," says Patrick Morris, Chief Executive Officer of Gold Star Resources Corp. in an interview with AlphaTrade Finance.

Gold Star Resources is a Vancouver-based company seeking high-impact 'onshore' oil and gas opportunities in Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana in West Africa. The company recently announced its acquisition of International Resources Strategies Liberia Energy Inc. (IRSLE). Gold Star also announced that it signed a Letter-of-Intent with Bengal Bight Ghana to acquire 100% of the hydrocarbon rights to the Tampoum mining concession, approximately 1,000 square km, in Cote d'Ivoire.

Morris adds, "The U.S. Department of Energy has already confirmed that the United States will be importing over 770 million barrels of African oil annually by the year 2020. The U.S. National Intelligence Council is projecting that 25 percent of U.S. oil imports will come from West Africa by 2015 compared to 15% today. My own professional experience tells me that the political stability of Ghana's government, a credible democratic political party system, and a positive investment environment all favor closer ties to Ghanaians by the Obama White House."

The United States and China have a history of raping Africa for her natural resources, and investing nothing into local African communities themselves. Serge Michel, West Africa correspondent for the French newspaper Le Monde, told Democracy Now that -- in classic colonialist fashion -- China extracts Africa's natural resourses without contributing anything to the native people, say by building infrastructure like roads. The United States traditionally follows a similar pattern of conquer and pillage.

There is no reason to doubt Ghana will face a similar fate this time.

Cross-posted from Allison Kilkenny's blog. Also available on Facebook and Twitter.