President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has disclosed government is prioritising value addition in the natural resources sector to ensure the state derives optimal benefits.
The government, he said, is also strengthening local content and local participation as well to ensure Ghanaians have more roles in the extraction of these resources.
According to him, this is imperative in view of the fact that the world’s poorest countries are those with the largest deposits of mineral resources.
Delivering the keynote address at the Natural Resources Stakeholder Dialogue in Accra on Thursday, 11th May 2023, President Akufo-Addo indicated that 60% of the world’s extremely poor live in sub-Saharan Africa with most resource-rich countries on the continent being among the poorest in the world.
“These include countries that hold huge deposits of iron ore, diamonds, bauxite and the largest mineral reserves in the world; the largest producer of cobalt, the second largest producer of industrial diamonds, and fifth largest producer of copper; as well as the world’s largest reserves of bauxite.”
“Worst of all, many of the areas where these resources are found appear to be among the most deprived areas in the world. In our country for example, Obuasi, which, for years, hosted the richest gold mine in the world, remains largely underdeveloped. The story is no different from other areas such as Tarkwa, Prestea, Wassa, and Bibiani, which have for centuries been the attraction for adventurers and fortune seekers.”
According to the President, many reasons account for these including poor and short-sightedness in negotiations with companies that exploit these natural resources; corruption, incompetence and political instability, failure to put in place the requisite framework to establish the highest end of the value chain of the extractive industry and extensive tax and royalty exemptions among others.
These, he said, have resulted in extraordinary profits to mining companies at the expense of owners of these resources.
He stressed that after centuries of exploitation, Africa still holds some 30% of the world’s mineral reserves, and even higher proportions of gold, diamond, bauxite and manganese but the contribution of these resources to socio-economic development has been somewhat awful.
“With all these resources, we should have been the richest continent in the world. The irony, however, is that Africa remains the poorest continent on the planet.”
“We cannot repeat these mistakes. While we understand that mining companies must make a profit from their business, it is important that this is done not at the expense of the lands and the people that provide these resources,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo stressed that these states should harness their natural resources for sustainable development, which requires exploitation of these resources do not destroy the natural environment.
Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, in his address, assured the government remains committed to working with all stakeholders to construct a sustainable and value-added natural resources sector anchored on transparency, integrity and utmost good faith for the benefit of the Ghanaian people, the true owners of these resources.
According to him, the management of natural resources is not just about protection and exploitation, but also more importantly about sustainability, environmental protection, mitigating climate crisis, and ensuring optimal benefit for the owners of these resources.
“That is why, pursuant to the instructions of President Akufo-Addo, we have been taking several measures, over the past few years, to ensure the effective, efficient and sustainable management of our natural resources, and even, significantly, implementing policies aimed at retaining the value chain of these resources in-country.”
He expressed hope through the Dialogue, a common path would be charted to manage Ghana’s natural resources sustainably, add value to them, retain the highest end of the industry, contribute to the national economy and protect the environment for the collective good.