A two-day West African mining development conference opened in Accra yesterday, with a call on member states to harmonise their laws and policies on mining to achieve a common framework for the development of the sector.
The conference is being hosted by the Ghana Chamber of Mines, under the auspices of the ECOWAS Federation of Chambers of Mines (EFEDCOM), on the theme: “Advancing collaboration for the development of mining in West Africa”.
Delegates from Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Mali are attending the conference, aimed at optimising investment opportunities in the sub-region to strengthen its position as Africa’s most attractive minerals investment destination.
They will also discuss the ECOWAS Model Mining and Minerals Development Law which is to institute institutional structures, a licensing and permit regime, a fiscal framework and general governance issues across the sub-region.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, said sustaining development activities in the sector was key to the growth of economies within the sub-region.
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He expressed regret that whereas the West African sub-region had been recognised as one of the most significant producers of mineral resources, with Guinea supplying about eight per cent of the world’s diamond and Ghana, as well as Mali doing similar percentages in terms of gold, the region had not seen the desired transformation from the sector.
Mr Owusu-Bio, therefore, called for a broader policy shift that would go to support the attainment of the transformation and development of communities within the region.
On Ghana, he told the delegates that under the African Mining Development Centre (AMDC), the country had instituted the National Suppliers’ Development Programme, a comprehensive local content policy with a legislative instrument aimed at enhancing the manufacture and supply of inputs by indigenous companies.
“The goal is for our citizens to tap into the mining value chain which has a huge potential for skills development and job creation,” he stated.
He also said Ghana supported the ECOWAS agenda of ensuring sustainable and responsible mining practices, saying the regional initiatives would add to progressive solutions that were in place to provide an enabling environment for responsible mining to thrive.
Partnerships and trust
The President of EFEDCOM, Mr Kwame Addo-Kuffour, in his remarks, indicated that governance had become a critical game changer if growth was to be achieved.
“Any sustainable system of governance in the sector must necessarily be on the basis of all key players working together in the spirit of partnerships, trust and transparency,” he stated.
He said mining laws and regulations that were often passed with the consultation and involvement of all interested parties were likely to be more effective during implementation than those put in place within short notices to correct perceived imbalances and loopholes.
Mr Addo-Kufuor also stressed that while stimulating economies within the sub-region required fast-paced industrialisation, it would also require the need for the mining industry to be integrated into the non-mining economy.
“In line with this, we welcome the renewed emphasis for local content and input into the value chains of mining companies,” he said.
The Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr Sulemana Koney, for his part, stated that mining companies were not just expected to be responsible but that the business of mining should lead to socio-economic transformation, as envisaged under the African Mining Vision.
“To realise this, we should avoid considering mining in silos and rather see it as a catalyst for development.
In other words, the industry should be deliberately linked to the economies of countries and, by extension, the regional economy,” he said.