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Editorial News of Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Source: www.theheraldghana.com

Govt using underground to experts to push new Agyapa deal, CSOs sidelined

Agyapa Deal has been met with a lot of controversies Agyapa Deal has been met with a lot of controversies

The Government through the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIFe) has engaged the service of some unknown experts to hold public forums on the monetisation of the country's mineral royalties.

In what is seen as a clever attempt to get the Agyapa deal through, the underground experts are making a case for Ghana to take such an action, if it intends to make the most of the opportunities in the sector.

Interestingly, copiously missing were the chairman of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) and the Chairman of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, Dr. Steve Manteaw, Franklin Cudjoe of IMANI Ghana, Benjamin Boakye, Executive Director of the Africa Center for Energy Policy (ACEP), Kofi Bentil and Bright Simons and several others, despite being at the forefront demanding proper justification for the monetization of Ghana's royalties.

Also missing were Kofi Ansah, the founding Chief Executive of the Minerals Commission, and Fui Tsikata, a lawyer with 45 years' experience in mineral and energy law and policy, and had argued for the freezing of the controversial Agyapa Mineral Royalties deal, which had metamorphosed from Asaase Royalties.

It is not clear, if they were invited, but refused to show up or the organizers had an agenda that could be derailed had they attended the event which rather had a huge presence of undergraduate students who knew next to nothing about the subject matter.

Speakers at the forum, including Hene Aku Kwapong, the Founder of the Songhai Group; Kwabena Ata Nuamah Mensah, a Resource Governance Professional; and Carl Odame-Gyenti, a Banking and Finance analyst, argued that countries like South Africa and Saudi Arabia, which have seen large-scale investments in infrastructure were able to do so because they, among other things, monetised their resource incomes.

The forum brought together banking experts, minerals governance experts, academics, and students to explore the concept and the best practices in monetising minerals royalties.

Dr. Carl Odame-Gyenti, called for a review of all existing gold mining agreements to enable the country to maximise the benefits of monetising its mineral royalties.

According to him, a restructuring of the gold mining activities in the country would place the country on a firmer footing enabling it to take advantage of the huge cash flow within the gold royalty space.

"A lot is at stake for this country in our gold royalties management and we need to discuss and find the best fit solution to enable us to take advantage of the huge revenues in that space," he said.

Dr. Odame-Gyenti, said even though the gold royalty business is not new globally, it is a new area for Ghana, and venturing into it would require that all the necessary conditions are satisfied.

"The mineral royalties business is about $72billion globally but it is a whole new area for us and there is the need to take advantage of this and invest in there," he said.

Dr. Odame-Gyenti, said there are about 23 gold mining companies in the country but unfortunately, all of them are owned by foreigners, stressing that the only way to change the situation is through government investment in the sector.

He insists that monetising our mineral royalties is the only way the government can raise the needed investment.

On his part, the founder of the Songhai Group, Hene Aku Kwapong, said the time had come for Ghana to move away from rent collection and become a real player in the mineral extractive industry.

He said moving away from rent collection would require the country to look at the option of monetising its mineral royalties.

However, he noted that for the country to derive the full benefits of monetisation, there must be a plan that establishes a baseline to identify the gap between where the country is now and where it desires to be.

This, he said, will help the country know exactly what funding is required.

The Chief Executive Officer of the MIIF, in his closing remarks, pledged that the Fund will incorporate all the concerns expressed to ensure that the best deal is secured for the country.

He said it is important for Ghanaians to appreciate the fact that monetising the country's mineral royalties is novel, and just like novelties, it will come with its attendant misconceptions.

Mr Baah pledged to deepen consultations to ensure that the Special Purpose Vehicle for monetising the country's mineral royalties, Agyapa, achieves its goals for the benefit of all.

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