Päivi Lujala, Christa Brunnschweiler, and Ishmael Edjekumhene (2020).

Greater transparency has been proposed as an antidote to mismanagement of natural resource revenues in resource-rich, developing countries. The dominant transparency narrative in policymaking attributes a key role to the public: once citizens gain information, they are predicted to use it to demand better resource governance. Whether the public receives the available information in the first place, however, has not been scrutinised in a large-N analysis. This article examines Ghanaians’ information sources and information-seeking behaviour using a unique survey with over 3500 respondents. Although Ghana has actively pursued transparency in its natural resource revenue management, most Ghanaians have poor access to understandable information as information is disseminated through channels that the intended receivers normally do not use. Non-elite citizens and those with limited English skills were least likely to have heard about natural resource revenue management, compared with elected duty bearers, traditional authorities, other opinion leaders, and those with an interest in the issue through working in mining or living near an extraction site. The results suggest that the conceptualisation of transparency may be too simplistic, and that the expectations linked to transparency in enhancing natural resource governance may not materialise through the mechanisms hypothesised in the literature.

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