Some stakeholders in Ghana’s mining sector want the government to set aside a portion of Ghana’s mineral revenue to cater for the developmental and livelihood needs of poor mining communities in the country.
Speaking to Xinhua on the sidelines of a one-day workshop on Ghana’s proposed Mineral Revenue Management Law on Thursday, Georgette Sakyi-Addo, President of Women in Mining, an advocacy group in the sector, said the proposed law was a necessity just like the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA).
“It is important that as we are doing this, we recognize that there are vulnerable people in some of these mining areas. And Women in Mining will be happy that the policy actually lays out the framework and we do not leave these decisions to be made by others because we have seen that up till now a lot of women are still at the bottom,” she urged.
As a lot of Ghanaians can claim they are politically independent, Sakyi-Addo asserted that economic empowerment was the next necessary thing all citizens needed.
“And so if the fund is able to allocate money to the districts (local government assemblies) and there are clauses in there which say people who are affected because of diseases; because they are women; they can be given some funds to do some economic projects, that will help them live better lives, that will be a positive impact,” she added.
In 2016, Ghana, the second largest gold exporter in Africa after South Africa, raked in 1.6 billion Ghana cedis (357 million U.S. Dollars) in mineral revenue.
The proposal is to ensure that 20 percent of annual mineral revenue is targeted at pro-poor interventions in rural mining communities to alleviate the plight imposed on them mostly by mining activities.
Executive Director of the African Center for Energy Policy (ACEP), Benjamin Boakye, who took participants through the proposal for the bill, said in an interview that the plan was long overdue as large scale mining had imposed hardships on communities over the years.
“People see gold extracted and taken out of the community and they are impoverished by the day. So you have to send back a portion of the revenue to develop the community. That is what has been lacking over the years. What we do is to just send money to the assemblies and the assemblies use it for recurrent expenditure,” Boakye pointed out.
He argued that when the law was passed, it would enable stakeholders to track specific activities that the funds were being used for, adding that ACEP’s proposal based on consultation with communities and other stakeholders was that these resources should go to invest in the pro-poor sectors of agriculture, education, as well as critical infrastructure in roads and rail-lines dealing with development.
“That way, you can be sure that revenues are used efficiently and to the benefit of the people. And in every community the diagnoses are different. If people are losing lands and they do not have the land for farming, what economic activity, for example, can result from the investment of the revenue so that you can keep people busy and working?” he said.
Boakye was therefore confident that the proposed Minerals Revenue Management Act strategy would deal with issues to improve upon the livelihoods of people. Enditem