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Article: GNPC CEO Opoku-Ahweneeh Danquah – transforming Ghana’s oil and gas sector with Vision and Action

Opoku-Ahweneeh Danquah’s dynamic approach, unwavering commitment, and transformative initiatives are propelling GNPC to a new era of progress

In a bold departure from traditional norms, Opoku-Ahweneeh Danquah, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), is redefining leadership within the public service by leading systematic efforts aimed at transforming Ghana’s oil and gas sector.

Opoku-Ahweneeh Danquah’s dynamic approach, unwavering commitment, and transformative initiatives are propelling GNPC into a new era of efficiency, innovation, and employee well-being. His endeavours are among others, proactiveness in the global oil and gas space, local activities in the oil and gas sector as well as legacy mindedness.

Proactive global vision

Opoku Danquah is not your typical desk-bound CEO. Instead, he embodies a proactive spirit, constantly on the move to create tangible results. His industry—oil and gas—demands agility, adaptability, and a global outlook. He is not just transforming GNPC; he’s shaping the future of Ghana’s oil and gas sector.

His tireless efforts, strategic decisions, and straightforward people-centric approach are a beacon of hope for public service excellence – he was the recipient of the coveted oil and gas industry leadership award last year at the Africa Public Sector Conference and Awards.

This award is given to top-performing executives who drive value and transformation on the continent and beyond, through innovation and sound leadership in the oil and gas sector. As he crisscrosses the globe, forging partnerships and securing investments, Ghana’s energy landscape evolves under his watchful eye.

Being a strategic necessity inherent to his position, the CEO of GNPC frequently engages with key decision-makers outside the country, recognizing that major oil companies and financial institutions seldom have their key decision-makers stationed in Ghana.

Danquah’s global presence is imperative for securing foreign direct investment (FDI), which constitutes most, if not all of the upstream oil and gas investments in Ghana.

When asked recently about his diligent efforts, he responded that: “87% of funding that drives African fossil fuel development is from the Global North – that is North America, Europe, Australia, in addition to Asia.”

“When you take Ghana as a case study, you realize that the percentage is probably over 95%. We are still very much dependent on foreign financing and this dependence will continue unless we build the technical, commercial, and financial capacity to operate our fields and reinvest the proceeds.”
This is the reason why GNPC’s operatorship dream under Opoku Danquah in the Voltaian Basin is key to increasing its stakes in the country’s petroleum proceeds, instead of the minority-carried interest that GNPC and Ghana have received in our current petroleum agreements.

Moreover, in an era marked by the energy transition agenda and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) requirements for international lending, Danquah’s adept negotiation skills and personal touch are indispensable for securing crucial funding from international banks, investors, and multinationals.

Domestic unwavering action

Apart from Danquah’s proactive approach transcending the traditional desk-bound leadership, he is championing a dynamic way of working, leveraging modern technologies and adapting to changing paradigms.

Under his leadership, GNPC has undergone a transformation like no other. Danquah has implemented progressive policies aimed at enhancing employee welfare and organizational efficiency.

One of his notable achievements is tying staff bonuses to first of all attendance and then departmental goal achievements, which has significantly boosted productivity.

The GNPC staff hallways are filled with the echo of one of the popular adages: “the harder we work, the luckier we become” – which the CEO voiced out during one of his regular staff durbars in the quest of finding oil in the Voltaian basin.

When asked about his policy of aligning some benefits with employee productivity, he answered: “there was pushback when I tried to push this policy through and there is still pushback, but how can you rationalize diligence in a thousand-step journey to become an operator when some staff cannot even take the first step to be present at work. Let’s reward hard workers, discourage absenteeism, and encourage industriousness.”

Danquah has sparked a remarkable transformation – multiple organizational development activities have fostered a culture of commitment and accountability. Employees now recognize that their presence matters, and absenteeism has significantly decreased.

The GNPC team is more engaged, focused, and aligned with organizational objectives. With his digital transformation initiatives, excessive paper memos, once ubiquitous in the Ghanaian public service, are now relics of the past at GNPC.

Opoku has championed a digital revolution, ensuring that most systems operate seamlessly in a digital environment. In his quest to guide GNPC to become an upstream operator, he has used technology to streamline competency management, project tracking, and communication channels— which have accelerated decision-making and reduced bureaucracy.

The CEO’s vision extends beyond theory. He believes in practical training for real-world impact. He revamped employee training, emphasizing practical workshops and hands-on sessions. GNPC staff gain skills that now directly impact their daily work.

Whether it’s drilling techniques, safety protocols, or project management, the focus is on practical value. The result is competent professionals who drive GNPC’s success.

Furthermore, he has instituted progressive policies for a modern workplace: remote working is no longer an exception; it’s a policy. Danquah recognizes that flexibility enhances productivity and work-life balance. Other policies that GNPC has put in place are ones against workplace harassment, bullying, and violence.

Mental health support has also been prioritized, fostering a healthier work environment. Danquah has significantly rejuvenated employee relations. Consumer Price Index (CPI) increases in wages were also restored under Danquah’s leadership, recognizing the dedication of GNPC’s workforce to thrive in spite of unfavorable external factors.

Negotiations under his tenure have also resulted in a unique conditions-of-service agreement for the senior staff union. Collective bargaining discussions for all employees have ensured fairness and transparency.

The GNPC CEO values the contributions of every employee, from engineers to administrative staff, and that is why he is very committed to his open-door policy. One of Danquah’s greatest achievements is empowering managers for corporate success. His cross-functional rotations (an HR technique used by leading multinational firms) have broken down departmental silos and boosted idea-sharing within the corporation.

He believes managers hold the keys to GNPC’s future and carry most of the corporation’s workload. Recognizing their pivotal role, Danquah has promoted more managers than ever before, while recognizing that good leadership drives the corporation’s growth. Whether it’s optimizing exploration strategies or managing production portfolios, these managers are the backbone of GNPC.

Legacy in the Making

Opoku Danquah isn’t just transforming GNPC, he’s shaping Ghana’s energy landscape. His multifaceted responsibilities extend beyond Ghana’s borders and match his background of unique international industry experience that we need more of in this Ghana.

His solid efforts contribute to the growth of the oil and gas sector and the overall development of the nation. It’s essential to recognize the complexities of his role and appreciate the strategic decisions he makes to advance GNPC’s mission.

His legacy? Results-driven leadership that transcends borders. Ghana’s future brightens under his watchful eye.

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