For some days now, both traditional and social media have been inundated with comments for and against a deal purported to handle or manage mineral royalties that will be accrued from the extraction of Ghana’s God-given natural resources which over centuries have not significantly benefited the people of the country and lifted mining communities out of abject poverty. The deal has popularly been called the Agyapa deal. And of course, as usual, public opinions have largely been divided along rabid partisan lines, with representatives or spokespersons of the two largest political parties holding opposing views; one (NPP) argues the deal is best for Ghana and the other (NDC) contends potential corruption and wrongdoing against the proponents.
Not long ago, a memo believed to have come from the Attorney General’s office advising against the deal emerged on social media and other sources and several media houses have written extensively about it. Comments on the deal are increasing and civil society organizations have participated in the public discourse as part of their goal to promote good governance and sustainability. It is not misplaced for one to state their views on resource governance; it is a constitutional obligation to speak to issues that confront the nation. We are stakeholders of the mineral resources of Ghana and have every legitimate interest and responsibility to comment on any activity that could impact the extraction of the natural resources.
However, I refrain from the Agyapa deal in this short article because I have not had a copy of its documents to review and to understand what is contained in it. I have knocked on several doors for a copy and I am yet to receive one (please do share if you have it). While refraining from speaking to the Agyapa issues, I would like to draw the attention of stakeholders to alternative means of governing the natural resources of the country to benefit citizens and to improve socioeconomic lives and activities. Can we allow existing or new multinational mining companies to operate under the current or under an enhanced regulatory regime and the government also begins its own mining company to create a competitive mining market? Mining has occurred in Ghana for more than a century and the country has produced many distinguished mining professionals who are either based locally or internationally and are contributing incredibly in diverse ways in wherever they find themselves.
Presently, mining professionals in Ghana largely run some of the multinational gold mining companies in the country, overseeing all mining activities and making crucial mining decisions. Is it not possible to assemble these professionals to begin state mining where the government owns 100%? Could that be possible? And the questions or arguments that may arise are that we failed in the past and corruption will not allow state mining to survive. Failure is part of the learning process and we should learn our lessons by now. On corruption, can we enlist the military to take charge of the management of the state mines? The military makes all the decisions that are expected to be nonpartisan and excluded from influence peddling; they form the board, hire workers, and appoint officials to various positions and determine salary structures etc.
We have known over many years that the military is disciplined, and more recently, we witnessed their signature in the rapid construction of the Covid19 isolation and treatment center with the private sector funds. Can we register State Mining Ghana Limited or State Mining Company Limited under the auspices of the military and finance it with 500 million dollars to start a new mine? This money can begin a surface gold mine that can directly employ about 2,000 youth and generate many indirect jobs to reduce youth unemployment which is reaching a pandemic level. Profit from this state mining operations can be reinvested into strategic sectors, including sustainable national or community projects or be used to open new mines. There is a reason for God to have endowed Ghana’s soils with abundant natural resources and it behooves on us to use wisdom to extract the resources in an efficient and a more sustainable manner to feed God’s children, for poverty is a deadly disease.
Kenneth Bansah, PhD
Missouri University of Science and Technology, USA