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Real estate development is booming in Takoradi and making city unaffordable for locals. Image by Christiane Badgley. Ghana, 2011.

Only a few months into the oil business and Ghana already has its Oil City. Takoradi, capital of the Western Region, has a new nickname and, if the boosters are correct, will soon be Ghanas boomtown.

On December 15th, 2010, Ghana became the latest African nation to join the oil producers club. During a ceremony broadcast live across the nation, President John Atta Mills opened the valves on the countrys first offshore platform, the "Kwame Nkrumah," and the oil began to flow.

Ghanas Jubilee field holds an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil and with several new discoveries and other offshore blocks looking promising, Ghana is poised to become a significant player in the coming years.

President Mills has promised that oil income will be used to promote economic development and that Ghana will avoid the so-called "resource curse." The country recently passed a landmark Petroleum Revenue Management Plan and many observers are cautiously optimistic.

But that doesnt mean the road ahead wont be perilous. Oil money will test Ghanas democratic institutions, and the governments response to the "oil challenge" has significance for the entire Gulf of Guinea region where "new" oil has been found from Sierra Leone to Angola.

In a series of ongoing reports, Christiane Badgley examines how oil money (or the dream of it) is already changing life on the ground in the Western Region. She also investigates the significant environmental concerns related to Ghanas fast-track development of deep-water offshore drilling.

This project is a collaboration between the Pulitzer Center and the Center for Public Integritys International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

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