President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says the government is identifying alternative sources of livelihood for persons engaged in illegal mining, popularly referred to as galamsey.
He said a Cabinet Committee had been set up under the leadership of the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, to explore the alternative sources of livelihood for the operators of galamsey.
The committee, he added, would also implement, to the letter, the government’s strategy on combating the illegal mining menace.
Addressing the Ghanaian community in Conakry, Guinea, last Thursday, President Akufo-Addo said “one of the advantages of campaigning is that you get to see Ghana. It is the exposure I had in this last campaign of what was actually going on in the field that hardened my decision that God willing, if I was to win the election, I would make the fight against galamsey one of my priorities.”
The President was in Guinea as part of the second leg of his three-nation West African tour to build on existing relations and explore further areas of co-operation between Ghana and other West African countries.
With the christening of Ghana’s first modern city as Elmina, to wit “The Mine’” by the Portuguese, President Nana Akufo-Addo stated that as far back as the 15th century, there was the recognition that mining was important for the country’s economy.
“But what we cannot have happen is for mining to compromise our future environment. Sixty per cent, we are told, of the water bodies in Ghana have been affected by illegal mining activities. That is unacceptable. We are not out to attack Chinese or Canadians or whoever. We are saying that we want people to respect the laws of our country and make sure that our environment does not suffer from mining, and that is what we are going to do,” he added.
Integrated aluminium industry
Describing aluminium as “the metal of the future”, the President said Ghana’s experience with the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO), which saw Kaiser, operators of the smelter, import bauxite from Jamaica, meant that “we need an integrated aluminium industry in Ghana – right from the mining of the bauxite to alumina, and the refining of alumina into aluminium.”
He said it was his hope that by the end of the next sitting of Parliament, a bill establishing an Aluminium Development Authority – the vehicle to be principally responsible for putting together the whole of the infrastructure required for the exploitation of the country’s bauxite resources-- would be passed.
“Aluminium is the metal of the future, and we have substantial quantities of the raw material in our country. We need a strategy that will ensure value addition, and not just exporting it in its raw form. There is no future in the export of our raw materials. But, that we must add value inside our country, create jobs, and at the end of the process we will have aluminium,” he added.
“It was for that reason that former President J A Kufuor bought VALCO,” President Nana Akufo-Addo said, “so that it will be part of this process for an integrated aluminium industry in Ghana. Very soon the plans will be out.”
Promises will be fulfilled
President Nana Akufo-Addo reiterated his commitment to fulfil the promises he made to Ghanaians in the run-up to the December 2016 general election.
For instance, he said, the promise of the government to implement the free senior high school policy would be fulfilled and explained that the government would bear the cost of those who would qualify for entry into public senior high schools with effect from the 2017/2018 academic year.
Touching on the restoration of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), President Akufo-Addo said the government had found it necessary to find the money to save the scheme from collapse, and it was for that reason that he chose Dr Kwaku Agyeman Manu, an eminent accountant, to be in charge of the Health Ministry and supervise the revival of the NHIS.
On the agricultural sector, the President told the gathering that the programme for “Planting for Food and Jobs,” launched in Goaso a month ago, was the answer to the twin-problem of the migration of youth to city centres in search of non-existent jobs, and the end to the disgraceful spectacle of Ghana importing food stuffs from neighbouring countries.
The programme, he said, had so far employed 1,200 extension officers, while an additional 2,000 more officers would be employed in 2018. Additionally, the programme, he stated, would engage about 200,000 farmers during its first year of implementation.
President Akufo-Addo acknowledging Ghanaians at the meeting grounds