Officials of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources will meet with their Ivorian counterparts on February 17 this year for negotiations on the longstanding maritime dispute between the two countries.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Inussah Fuseini disclosed this on the Joy FM Super Morning Show on Tuesday.
According to him, “we have been working at documents because this matter has to be decided or negotiated based on international law practice and conventions.”
Contrary to some speculations in media circles that Ghana is conceding to Ivory Coast on this matter, the minister gave the assurance that “our claim to that area is well founded on international law practice and the custom that exists between Ivory Coast and Ghana.”
He further explained that “the law actually explains that because maritime boundaries were not established, anytime a country seeks to establish outer maritime limits with an adjoining country, you must negotiate. That is why we are not only negotiating with Ivory Coast; we are also negotiating with Togo, Benin and possibly Nigeria.”
Ghana and Ivory Coast are claiming ownership of a territory in the C 100 area along the Tano basin which experts say holds about 2 billion barrels of oil reserves, as well as 1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Chief Policy Analyst at the Ghana Institute for Public Policy Options (GIPPO), Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby who was a panellist on the show, believes arbitration is the most effective way to resolve the dispute.
He said if the dispute is not resolved quickly enough “it is going to affect even the development of our own oil business because potential investors fear risk and so long as the boundary issue is not resolved, nobody is going to invest more money into oil exploration.”
Senior Lecturer in Coastal and Marine Resources at the University of Portsmouth in the UK, Dr. Isaac Boateng however disagreed.
According to him “Ghana and Ivory are sister nations and therefore whenever there is any disagreement, the first port of call should be negotiation.”
He is of the opinion that arbitration might drag for a longer period “so the best option to deal with this issue is to negotiate.”