We will replicate 'Mining Indaba' in Ghana - Jinapor

BY: Kobby Asmah

Ghana participated in the recently organised global conference dubbed: “Mining Indaba” in Cape Town, South Africa. 

Ghana’s delegation was led by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abdulai Jinapor (SAJ).

At the four-day conference, Mr Jinapor spoke on the topic: “Resource Nationalism Challenge: How has the global pandemic shaped sovereign state views on resource nationalism and collaboration at the main plenary discussion on the extractive industry?” The Editor, Graphic, Kobby Asmah (KA), caught up with the Mr Jinapor at the conference and the following are excerpts of the interview.

Kobby Asmah (KA) Thank you, Mr Minister. We are in the last day of Mining Indaba. What is all this about?

Samuel Abu Jinapor (SAJ): Well thank you very much. The South African government has been successful at organizing this yearly conference relating to mining. Essentially, it is a conference that brings all the players and actors in the African mining industry and beyond to one venue, Cape Town, where issues relating to mining are discussed — mining of all sorts: bauxite, diamond, manganese, lithium, iron ore, gold, cobalt and so on and so forth. These issues are critical and those are the matters which we’ve been discussing here in Cape Town.

KA: What are your impressions so far?

SAJ: I should say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised and impressed; it’s been remarkable.

This is my first time of attending the Mining Indaba as the minister who has the privilege to be responsible for mining, and I should say for the level of organisation and coordination and the sheer magnitude of the conference, the South African government deserves high commendation for being able to put such a spectacular conference together.

Participation has also been hugely impressive; literally, every minister of mines on the continent is here and players in the industry across the world have all converged here. I think that is remarkable.

Last November, I was in Glasgow, Scotland. I had the privilege of accompanying President Akufo-Addo to attend the COP26 and what they put out there was spectacular.

But having been to Mining Indaba, having been to Cape Town, I think the South Africans have held their own too.

KA: So how will you recommend African governments manage their mineral resources?

SAJ: As you know, President Akufo-Addo was a keynote speaker here in Cape Town in 2019 and what he said is still as profound as it was then in terms of how African governments and people ought to manage, exploit and utilize our natural resources in a manner that will benefit our people. Essentially, Mining Indaba is a big platform and we in Ghana hope that, beginning this year, we will begin to replicate the Indaba type of conference in Takoradi, hopefully. We already have the Mining Week in Takoradi on a smaller scale. The ministry intends to intervene and get involved in the organisation and planning to ensure we have some sort of a West African Mining Indaba in Takoradi in Ghana.

KA: Do we have timelines as far as prosecuting this agenda in Ghana, is concerned?

SAJ:I think next year should be our deadline. When I get back to Accra I’m going to liaise with my colleague Ministers of Trade and Industry, the Ghana Investment Promotion Center,the Ministry of Finance and the Presidency to begin to fashion out the framework or the modalities through which I believe we would be able to begin to prosecute this agenda of replicating an indaba in Ghana and I mean let’s be realistic and lets be modest we cannot achieve what they have achieved overnight. It will take time first of all to gain the credibility whether people will honor the invitation like they do when it comes to indaba. The physical and infrastructural facilities will all have to be looked at in the short and long term but we need to start from somewhere but I believe come what may, next year, we should be able to do something much better than we’ve been doing in the past.

KA: Honourable Minister, beyond replicating Mining Indaba in Ghana, what further outcomes can we learn from here?

SAJ: That’s a very important question. For me the outcomes we are taking back home is essentially to go back and double our efforts to realize the vision of President Akufo Addo, which is to build Ghana into the mining hub of Africa where all the various linkages of mining and mining related activities are centered in Ghana. As you know, Ghana is the number one producer of gold in Africa and the 6th in the world and today several countries which historically were not gold producing countries have suddenly discovered gold and you have countries like Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali all becoming gold producing countries.

So what does the President mean when he says we should make Ghana the mining hub of Africa?

KA: Making Ghana the Mining hub of Africa means what?

SAJ: What it means is that all the various linkages of mining are centred in Ghana. We should construct an industry, a mining sector which will make sure these linkages converge. So I can give an example where we should be able to develop an indigenous mine support industry or service which can support let’s say the mining industry of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger.

If we talk about exploration, we should develop an exploratory sector in Ghana which can venture into the space of Burkina Faso,Mali and Niger. When we talk about financing for mining activities we should be able to engage our financial sector in a way that the mobilization for mining will take place in Accra in Ghana.

In relation to the value chain and the institutional policy and legal framework of mining in Ghana, all of it should be miles ahead of every other mining country on the continent.

KA: How efficient, dependable and transparent is Ghana’s policy and legal regime regarding the mining sector?

SAJ: As you know Ghana prides itself to be one of the countries with a very advanced regulatory legal and policy framework for mining and several countries have visited our country since I became minister to learn from us. The Nigerien Minister for Mines yesterday sought audience with me and is asking for technical assistance from Ghana.

The Sudan came to Ghana to ask for technical assistance and several other countries.

The Minister for Mines of Guinea reached out to me to explore the opportunity of learning how we have set up Ghana Integrated Aluminium development corporation and how we are going about developing the bauxite of our country. So this is the takeaway, this is what we are taking home, all the contacts we’ve made here; the meetings we’ve had here, the investors who have expressed interest, the observations we’ve made, all of those are going to be doffing into the grand vision and agenda of President Akufo-Addo in building Ghana into the mining hub of Africa.

KA: It sounds laudable but what concrete plans are in place to ensure that we achieve this?

SAJ: First, obviously the climate inducive environment which will attract investors to it and as you know a gamut of measures and policies have been put in place and are being put in place to ensure Ghana becomes the preferred destination for mining companies. ;The President is transforming Ghana into a mining hub of Africa .where mining and mining related activities from exploration, down stream production, research to the support services, financial services of the African mining industry, will be centered.

Additionally, a mining industry which substantially retains the full value chain of the industry from exploration to mining to refinery to smelting and to the downstream industries. Essentially that is the vision,that is the President’s vision,that is what we are working to achieve.

KA: How critical is Ghana’s democratic dispensation to investor confidence?

SAJ: The whole issue of our democratic culture, where the rule of law is the norm and not the exception is critical.

Where there is respect for the sanctity of contract where the public sector and in this case the ministry works in partnership with the Ghana Chamber of Mines and various stakeholders in the industry to ensure Ghana becomes a conducive environment and attractive environment for investors to come into Ghana and since I had the opportunity to become the Minister of Mines my sole preoccupation is engaging with the key actors in the industry to make them confident that Ghana is the place to invest money.

Secondly, legislative framework, legal framework, and that is where you will see that the mining act 206 and 703 have been amended in many and several forms which makes our legal regime and statutory regime in mining reasonably watertight.

The third one is the policy framework. The policies we put in place to ensure that Ghana becomes an attractive place for mining investment and you will see that that policy framework has culminated in the reduction of withholding tax with the export of gold from 3% to 1.5%.This is to make Ghana more competitive than its neighbours.

KA: In all of these, where do we place local content?

SAJ: For me and quite importantly, it is what I call indigenisation of the mining sector in Ghana. Taking systematic steps and policies to ensure that Ghanaians occupy the commanding heights of the mining industry and which is why today we have the likes of Rocksure International involved in the bauxite industry of our country, which is why today we have Ghana Bauxite Company now owned fully by a Ghanaian and several other sectors where Ghanaians are participating and in respect of indigenisation of the mining sector, promulgation of the Minerals Income and Investment Fund,(MIIF), which is a fund where we are seeking to leverage the royalties coming out of our mineral resources for future development and for the development of the mining sector generally.

KA: How do we leverage royalties?

SAJ: As you know in the past, royalties were lodged into the consolidated fund and they just sat there, they were not leveraged. They were not invested, they were not monetized, they were not securitised and these royalties run into millions of dollars and yet they were just stuck in the consolidated fund without being leveraged and so the whole idea of the establishment of the MIIF is that all these royalties are now put in this fund, some sort of a sovereign fund, where the managers of the fund pursuant to the provisions of act 978 will set up purpose vehicles to leverage our royalties in order to develop our mining industry.

KA: But on the vexed question of illegal mining and activities of galamsey, would you attribute it to resource nationalism where the citizenry are so dissatisfied and for that matter are also constructing their way into the mining field though illegally?

SAJ: That obviously can be said to be a variant of entitlement I’m not too sure of resource nationalism but it is obviously a variant of entitlement, citizen entitlement and the mindset of entitlement.

You are right if you put it that way that part of the problem in Ghana relating to illegal small scale mining is that a good number of our compatriots have the mindset of entitlement which is they believe that these resources are theirs. Of course the law doesn’t say so.

The law is very clear. Article 257 of the constitution clearly stipulates that mineral resources in their natural state are vested in the President to be held in trust for the good people of Ghana. So no Ghanaian, no citizen, can lay claim and appropriate mineral resource to himself or herself.

But yes that is part of the problem which is why we are rolling out a lot of measures to be able to come to grips with the issue of illegal small scale mining in our country.

I’ve been outlining some of the measures here at the indaba. I talked about the enforcement mechanism, I talked about the legal regime, I talked about the roll-out of the community mining scheme, I talked about the sensitization of the small scale miners themselves. Indeed I talked about the launch of the alternate employment and livelihood programme which is supposed to be a means of creating alternative employment and jobs for people who will fall out of the cracks as a result of our enforcement effort in the small scale mining space. So yes it’s a very complex situation.

It throws out multiple difficult issues on the table. But nonetheless we will not stop at our efforts at sanitizing the mining industry of our country particularly the small scale mining sector.

KA: Because of the tall list of programmes you have outlined, what sort of legacy are you hoping to leave behind?

SAJ: Thank you very much, I think we should put it the other way round. The legacy that the president will leave behind. The president has a very bold vision for our country and that vision is one which is noble; it is one which is well thought through; it is one which is achievable and I should say it is one which is comprehensive and which deals with all the sectors of our national life and piecing them together for ultimate national development and progress and the various components of it will require that people like myself who’ve had the rare opportunity and privilege to be given the opportunity to serve to do my part to support the president in realizing this vision of his.

As you know there is a component of railways which is very important, without a railway sector you cannot have an integrated aluminium iron and steel industry. Railway is important and that is being pursued in my corner.

Without aluminium industry, without iron and steel industry you cannot have industrialization of your country, you cannot have robust automobile industry you cannot make ships you cannot make airplane you cannot make vehicles in your country if you don’t have iron and steel. So I have to keep my corner strong so that the president’s grand vision of building prosperity for the Ghanaian people will be realised.

So in the end the legacy that I hope and look forward to the president leaving in the mining sector will be a sector that has become the hub of Africa.

KA: do we have the political will?

SAJ: We should marshal it. We are going to begin. We will see how it goes. First of all, I should admit that it’s just an idea that I’ve thrown out there.

It is an idea that is motivated or inspired by what the President did with cocoa and when I go back to Ghana I will raise this matter with him that I think he should take a look at gold as well and I have no doubt knowing the President that he will seize the opportunity and given his stature and clout in Africa I have no doubt whatsoever that he will be able to spearhead this effort with myself his minister responsible for mining giving him all the support that he needs to be able to achieve for gold what he has achieved for cocoa.

Kobby: Honourable Minister I want to thank you so much it has been insightful. 

SAJ: Thank you. it’s been a wonderful interview.